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Newly-acquired defenceman Fantenberg amped to join surging Flames

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

The day after the Academy Awards, Brad Treliving had no shiny golden statuette to dazzle guests with on his mantel at home.

But he did manage to pick up an Oscar, all the same.

"Actually, I was taking my pre-game nap,'' reported the newest Flame, Swedish D-man Oscar Fantenberg, of a rather unorthodox Monday afternoon in his Tampa Bay hotel room. "You're sleeping, then the phone rings and it's (L.A. GM Rob) Blakey.

"Being traded is part of the business and you always know it could happen, the possibility is kinda in the back of your head.

"But when it does actually happen, it's still kind of shocking."

The 27-year-old Fantenberg, an undrafted free agent who signed on with the Kings two seasons back, was Treliving's lone transaction on trade deadline day.

Only just beginning to find his NHL equilibrium, the 6-foot, 203-lb. product of Ljungby was dealt to the Flames for a conditional 2022 draft choice.

The carrot, of course, is in joining a division- and conference-leading group.

"I've played against Calgary and it's always hard,'' he said. "They've got something good going on up there.

"They have a good mix of all kinds of players. They have skill. Quickness. Good defence. Good goalies. And everybody works really hard.

"I'm excited to be part of the Flames and looking forward to a good run in the playoffs.

"It's going to be fun."

Two seasons at Frölunda HC in the Swedish top flight and one with HC Sochi of the KHL caught L.A.'s attention.

Following a rookie North American pro baptism which saw him split time between the Kings (27 games) and AHL Ontario Reign (25 starts), Fantenberg seemed to have found a home at the Staples Center this winter, suiting up for 46 games in black-and-silver.

"My first year in the league coming from Europe was a little bit of an adjustment," he acknowledged. "So it was up and down the first part, but finished off with a good playoff series and I think that got me excited for this year.

"I've been more solid, more reliable this season. Playing on a higher level. I haven't had those dips. So it's been a good year for me, especially the last couple of weeks, even if the team has been struggling."

And Fantenberg will join his new pals in the New York area enjoying a certain degree of familiarity in his surroundings. Pivot Mikael Backlund, for instance, was a Tre Kroner teammate at the 2016 World Championships in Russia.

"I know them all a bit, actually. Mikael, as you mentioned. I played against Rasmus (Andersson) and Oliver (Kjillington) last year in the minors and against Elias (Lindholm) back in the Swedish Elite League.

"That always helps a little bit, when you make a change, already knowing guys on the team.

"I'll be going to New York to meet the team. A good trip. Nothing too crazy.

"I'd rather meet the guys right away and meet the staff. I think that's the best thing to do."

Even with his presence at the Kings-Bolts tilt at Amelie Arena now a non-starter, Fantenberg wasn't planing on catching any additional Zs Monday.

"Not after you get a call like that …

"I'm wide awake now."

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