Happy Thursday, Insiders!
Some roster action this morning for the Kings, with four deals announced in advance by the team before the team skates.
The Kings called up three players—defender Tobias Bjornfoot, as well as forwards Samuel Vagimo and Alex Turcotte—from the Ontario era in the AHL. In addition, the team placed forward Karl Grundström on injured reserve due to a lower-body injury.
Calling Bjornfoot makes sense. The Kings have only had six defensemen since Jordan Spence was named reigning back on Jan. 12. And the Kings have their next seven games here over the next 13 days, in seven cities, starting tonight against Dallas. With back-to-back games over his last two nights in Colorado, it would make tonight 3-on-3 for Bjornfot in check-in, so we wouldn’t expect to see a blueline change, but he brings solid skating ability and knowledge of the Kings, with 110 games to his name.
“He was really good in the American League and I think he was solid tonight,” McClellan said of Bjornfoot after his season debut. “He plays well when he’s using his legs, when he’s active, when he’s up, he’s back, he’s off. If he’s just standing around, waiting for things to come to him, it’s not going to go well. Tonight, he put his legs to good use.”
In terms of forwards, the Kings have 11 healthy forwards for sure, with Gabi Vilardi currently on a daily basis. Velarde can still play tonight and we’ll see his availability and hopefully he’ll be here after skiing in the morning. However, of course, Kings will not only satisfy the potential availability, but also increase the moves of the list.
Starting with Fagemo he would be the most likely option to play tonight if Velarde can’t go. Fagemo didn’t play Reign yesterday, in what was certainly a preemptive move for tonight’s Kings match. Fagemo has a goal and an assist from three NHL games played so far this season and has been talked about highly in a limited role, which has mostly been fourth-line duties. Fagemo has 12 goals from 27 AHL games this season, 30 over the course of his full AHL roster, which is more than solid. Kings Head coach Todd McClellan is a registered supporter of Fagemo, and we’ll assume he’ll be the first man to come on board this evening.
“I thought it was the best I’ve seen Sammy play this year,” McClellan said of Vagimo after his season debut in December. “We talked about his training camp, we were really hoping he’d be here full time, but he didn’t have the camp we expected and I’m sure of himself. This is the best game I’ve seen Sammy play, exhibition and regular season this year. Hats off to him because he’s made an impact.”
On Turcotte, he has to earn another summons. Turcotte has certainly had a rough ride this season, starting with a challenging summer as he recovered from a head injury sustained during the 2022 Calder Cup playoffs in May. Turcotte didn’t make his first season with the AHL club until mid-November, and he’s battled several additional illnesses since then, but he’s been playing some good hockey lately, with six points (3-3-6). He played his last five matches. Turcotte provides versatility, with the ability to play both center and wing, which is important when the Kings hit the road. A well-deserved call-up to an Illinois native.
“It was great,” said Marco Storm after a two-point night in late December. “I thought it was his best game today. He looked happy. I think he’s a better midfielder anyway, but we needed a man.” [at center] And we thought we did the right thing. I still think we did the right thing, but I think he’s more of a middle man and you can see today. Yes, we have to work with him especially on the defensive side of him, but he did some really good things today and I was really happy with his game.”
Regarding Grundstrom, he was injured during training on Tuesday, and quit skiing early. Grundstrom did not train with the team yesterday, and coach Todd McClellan indicated that he will not accompany the team on its upcoming six-game trip and will be out of action until the end of that trip, which lasted ten days. Among the games on the other side of it. More on Grundstrom’s injury, as well as the day-to-day situation of striker Gabe Vilardi, here.
The Kings are on the ice for our morning ski here in a few minutes and we’ll see if we get an update on the status of Velarde after that. Don’t expect Bjornfot or Turcotte on the ice, as they won’t go back in time, but Fagemo is expected to be there. More to follow in the game preview!
From the team’s official statement –
Bjornfot, 21, had an assist (0-1=1) in four games for the Kings after opening the season with the Reign scoring four points (2-2=4) with a plus-5 rating in 29 games. The 22nd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft is a veteran of 110 NHL games with the Kings and has accumulated 15 points (1-14 = 15). The 6-0, 200-pound defender scored 23 points (8-15=23) in 74 AHL games with Ontario.
Fagemo, 22, has appeared in three games with the Kings this season, scoring his first two NHL points (1-1=2), including his first NHL goal on December 3 against Carolina. The 6-0, 200-pound forward also suited up in 27 AHL games with Ontario, amassing 18 points (12-6=18). In 122 AHL games with the Reign, Goteborg, the Swede native, has accumulated 80 points (49-31=80) with 46 penalty minutes (PIM) and a plus rating of 8.
Turcotte, 21, has skated in 18 games with Ontario this season, recording 12 points (5-7=12) and a plus-5 rating. Turcotte was drafted fifth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, and has appeared in eight NHL contests with the Kings After making his debut in the NHL last season. The 5-11, 185-pound forward scored 51 points (17-34 = 51) with a 52 PIM and a plus-19 rating in 77 career AHL games.
Grundstrom, 25, has made 34 appearances for the Kings this season, picking up 10 points (6-4=10) to total his goal tally for the third straight season. Originally drafted in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 6-0, 195-pound forward was acquired by the Kings on January 28, 2019 along with Sean Durzi and a 2019 first-round pick. 2019. A native of Umeå, Sweden, Grundstrom has appeared in 166 NHL games, all with the Kings, earning 46 points (26-20=46).