Weekend watch list: Dec. 15-17

Patrick Williams, TheAHL.com Features Writer

Samuel Fagemo is making a statement in his second go-round with the Los Angeles Kings organization.

Re-acquired by the Kings on Nov. 11, Fagemo has recorded at least one point in 12 of his 13 appearances with the Ontario Reign this season, totaling 11 goals and eight assists.

Los Angeles originally selected Fagemo in the second round of the 2019 NHL Draft, and he arrived in North America with pro experience over two seasons in the Swedish Hockey League. From there, Fagemo played three seasons and 151 games with Ontario, putting up 60 goals off a right-side shot he is more than willing to use.

But he struggled to break into the Kings lineup in a full-time role, appearing in only 13 NHL games. When he failed to make the Los Angeles roster in training camp, this fall, the 23-year-old Fagemo was claimed off waivers by the Nashville Predators.

But after making just four appearances with Nashville, he found himself back on the waiver wire. And the Kings snapped him back up.

Fagemo was loaned to Ontario and immediately went to work, collecting the game-winning goal against Colorado on Nov. 12. Since then, no one in the AHL has more goals or points.

Fagemo can be absolutely dominant on the power play – his seven power-play goals are tied for the league lead – especially teamed with playmakers like two-time AHL MVP T.J. Tynan and rookie first-rounder Brandt Clarke. With the man advantage, the Reign were 7-for-50 (14.0 percent) before Fagemo arrived and have gone 13-for-56 (23.2 percent) since.

With an 8-3-1-1 record since Fagemo’s return, Ontario sits just three points behind Calgary for first place in the Pacific Division.

Who has been hotter lately? The Providence Bruins or forward Georgii Merkulov?

The P-Bruins had their seven-game winning streak ended on Wednesday night at Hershey in a back-and-forth 3-2 overtime defeat, but they still have points in eight straight contests as they prepare to host the Toronto Marlies tonight.

Merkulov has put up eight points (four goals, four assists) in his past three games, including a five-point night in a 5-1 victory at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last Saturday. Linemate Jesper Boqvist had four points in the win and was recalled by the parent Boston Bruins on Tuesday; Merkulov’s recent work has Boston fans clamoring to see the second-year pro with the NHL club before long.

For the season, Merkulov leads Providence across the board with nine goals, 13 assists and 22 points.

The undrafted Merkulov turned 23 in October and paced the Bruins in points (55) and goals (24) in 2022-23 as a rookie out of Ohio State. It was an unconventional road to the AHL as well: the Russian-born Merkulov spent two seasons in the United States Hockey League and just one campaign at the NCAA level before turning pro in April 2022.

Life in the Western Conference means life on the road, but that hasn’t bothered the Calgary Wranglers.

Only a seven-game journey leading into the All-Star break will be longer for the Wranglers than the five-game trip that begins tonight at San Jose. After a rematch Saturday, Calgary moves on to Bakersfield and Colorado.

So far, the road has been good to the Wranglers, who are 8-1-1-0 away from Calgary this season after leading the league with 26 road wins a year ago. They began December with a sweep of a two-game visit to Henderson.

However, there will be some challenges for the Wranglers, whose .773 pace (16-4-2-0) has them first overall in the AHL after capturing the regular-season league title last season. Recalls to the parent Calgary Flames have the Wranglers beginning this trip without standout goaltender Dustin Wolf and veteran defenseman Nick DeSimone.

But forward Matt Coronato, a 2021 first-round pick who has provided 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 14 games for the Wranglers, is back with the AHL team after a brief NHL recall.

The Rockford IceHogs and Chicago Wolves renew their in-state rivalry in the AHLTV Free Game of the Week on Sunday (4 ET/3 CT).

An AHLTV account is required to watch the AHLTV Free Game of the Week, but no subscription is needed. Visit AHLTV.com for details.