New York Islanders general manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello acquired some depth at the trade deadline, adding forward Pierre Engvall from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2024 third-round pick. Engvall was added to provide the Islanders with some forward depth after their slew of injuries and also to add speed to the lineup. The 26-year-old winger has found a home after struggling to solidify a spot in the lineup in his few games.
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Engvall’s linemate, Kyle Palmieri, believes he is getting acclimated to the team: “he’s settling in and getting to know the system. It’s a little different how we play and how much structure we play with. It takes some getting used to. I went through it a couple years ago, and it’s not easy jumping right into it,” (from “Islanders avoid frustration, get a boost from newcomer Pierre Engvall”, the Athletic, 3/16/23).
Engvall is a smart, versatile, two-way player who provides the team with an offensive spark. He has contributed three goals over his past five games. The Islanders are a veteran team, and adding a skater like Envgall has provided more scoring chances and quicker exits out of their defensive zone.
Journey to the Islanders
The Maple Leafs selected Engvall in the seventh round (188th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The big 6-foot-5 winger was a Calder Cup winner with the Toronto Marlies in 2018. The Swedish native was playing for Vastra Frolunda of the Swedish Junior league before being drafted and spent the next few seasons playing in the Swedish Elite League before coming over to play for the Marlies. Engvall was officially called up to the big club during the 2019-20 season and played 226 games for the Maple Leafs, scoring 42 goals along the way. He developed into an important bottom-six complementary forward for the Maple Leafs.
Toronto general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas had no choice but to move Engvall’s contract after the many additions he made at the deadline, while the Islanders were missing Mat Barzal, Cal Clutterbuck, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
“We’re extremely pleased,” Lamoriello said. “Pierre is a very versatile player. He’ll bring a dimension that he can play any one of the forward positions and probably his biggest asset is his skating ability. He’s got a long reach being 6-5, 220 pounds,” (from “Islanders acquire Pierre Engvall in trade with Maple Leafs”, NY Post, 2/28/23). The deal was a win-win for both sides, as the Islanders didn’t have to give up a prospect or a roster play, and the Maple Leafs needed to shed salary quickly.
Signing Envgall to Extension
Envgall is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this summer. He is in the final year of his deal with an annual average value of $2.25 million. Lamoriello stated that he isn’t really concerned about that now but would love to have him stick around for the next few years. “We’ll take one thing at a time,” Lamoriello said. “He’s certainly an individual that you’d like to keep in your organization. Certainly, with the style he plays and his speed. I can’t overemphasize his speed.”
He fits the Islanders’ style of play and is responsible in his own end, strong away from the puck and has a knack for getting pucks out of the defensive zone quickly. According to statistician Corey Sznajder, Engvall is one of the best in the league at exiting the zone.
Lamoriello has to decide if Engvall will be included in the team’s long-term plans. He will be looking for a raise, but the Islanders have a few contracts coming off the books this summer, so they should be able to fit him in. With Barzal back next season, and hopefully, a healthy Oliver Wahlstrom, Engvall could be a great addition to the bottom six moving forward and would give the Islanders some stability at the bottom of the lineup.
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So far, the trade has been a success. Engvall took some time to get adjusted, but he has since found some success. If the Islanders and Engvall can agree to a reasonable deal in the offseason, it would help the Islanders solidify their bottom six next season. Lamoriello is known for not trading for rental players, so expect him to take his best shot at keeping Engvall for the foreseeable future.