LOS ANGELES — On August 23, the Los Angeles Kings had their young prospects all together at their practice facility, the Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo, California, for their week-long 2021 Development Camp.
For 2019 first round pick (fifth overall) center Alex Turcotte and 2019 second round pick (50th overall) right wing Samuel Fagemo, it is quite clear that the Kings are excited about their development, but at the same time, they are preaching caution.
Turcotte, 20, who is in his second Kings development camp, is now in the position of being in a bit of a leadership role among the young prospects.
“I just feel a lot more comfortable,” he said. “I remember my first development camp a [couple of] years ago. I was pretty nervous, and I didn’t know anyone. Now I pretty much know everyone, and for the new guys, I’m just introducing myself, and helping them whenever I can, if they have questions, or anything.”
“It’s nice to be with all the guys,” he added. “I’ve actually been training here for most of the summer, anyway, so I’ve been back for a while. But just having everyone come in, especially all the guys I played with [last season with the AHL’s Ontario Reign], and then, meeting all the new guys—it’s great to finally meet them and have some competitive hockey this week. It’s definitely nice being back here and knowing everyone.”
After a slow start to his 2020-21 campaign, in part, due to injury, Turcotte indicated that things took off for him about midway through the season, along with his development.
“Last year was great for me, development -wise,” he noted. “Coming in, I didn’t start off too hot, so it took my awhile to get going. That was part of the process. That’s pretty normal.”
“You want to get going right away, but by about halfway through the season, I got comfortable, and I started playing my game more. I started producing really well. I just kept that going for the rest of the year, and I thought that I finished really strong.”
In Fagemo’s case, it was more about adjusting to the North American game for the 21-year-old right wing.
“Coming into my first year here in L.A., it’s really fun,” he said. “The biggest thing for me has been playing in the smaller rinks [in the NHL, compared to rinks outside of North America]. It goes so much faster, and you can shoot the puck more, too. I need to play the puck at a high pace, and shoot the puck as fast as possible.”
Like most young prospects, getting stronger and improving their defensive play are among the biggest challenges ahead for both Turcotte and Fagemo.
“The biggest things for me to focus on and develop is my defensive zone [play], and to get stronger,” said Fagemo. “That’s what I’ve been focusing on this summer.”
“Something I noticed coming in was just how strong everyone is in the corners,” said Turcotte. “You’re playing against grown men, and they’re really physical out there. That was something I needed to work on this summer—just getting more muscle on me—more strength. I feel like I’ve had a great summer at that.”
“I feel more than ready for this next season,” added Turcotte. “I feel like I’m taking everything that I learned from last season into this season, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Former Kings left wing Mike Donnelly, part of the team’s development staff, confirmed that Fagemo is still adjusting to the North American game.
“[For Fagemo], he’s made big strides,” he noted. “It’s tough coming from Europe, with the different ice surfaces and the different style of hockey. It’s always a bit of a transition for the European guys.”
“He’s very coachable,” he added. “He really wants to get better, and he pushes himself hard. I think he’s doing great.”
Donnelly indicated that the Kings are very impressed with Turcotte’s development and work ethic.
“Turcotte has had a great summer,” he said. “He’s working very hard. He understands how hard it’s going to be to make it, and he’s putting the work in. He’s working in the gym, he’s working on his game.”
“His effort, just like how he plays, it’s how he’s training this summer,” he added. “I’m seeing huge strides in him, from last year to just throughout the summer. I’ve noticed a big difference in his game.”
But Donnelly also urged patience in placing expectations on both Turcotte and Fagemo.
“There’s a fine line in how we evaluate players,” he noted. “We look at them by watching games, and seeing what they need to work on. We also look at things that we believe in, as far as what we want to teach our guys, and what we feel is the right way to do it so that they can play in the league for a long time.”
“With the COVID situation last year, it was difficult, in terms of development–it was a tough year,” he added. “Both [players] have good offensive instincts. They just have to get stronger and learn the pro game. It’s not easy. The AHL is a hard league. There’s a lot of good players in it.”
“They both had good first years. It’s exciting to see. They’re both talented. We just have to keep on working with them…but not putting too much pressure on them. They’re young kids, and it’s a hard league. We want to teach them the right way, and we want them to develop the right way. We don’t want to push them in there. We want to make sure they’re getting better every day. That’s our goal.”
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake (left) and Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti (right) are shown here with the Kings’ 2019 first round draft pick Alex Turcotte, who they selected fifth overall. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Kings.
Media Interviews with Alex Turcotte, Samuel Fagrmo and Mike Donnelly
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