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New York Islanders

Pierre Engvall pushed the Islanders into the postseason and made a name for himself in the process



Pierre Engvall

Pierre Engvall was accustomed to playing a secondary role. Lost in the shuffle with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he ate minutes on the penalty kill while the team’s high-profile stars were relied upon to handle the scoring. Even when he was dealt to the New York Islanders at the trade deadline, Engvall was overshadowed by the team’s other recent addition, Bo Horvat.

Soon after joining the Islanders, Engvall was thrust into a top-six role and served as a catalyst for their late-season playoff push.

It took him a few games to settle in following the trade. Once he did, Engvall saw a jump in his point production, scoring 0.5 points per game with the Islanders compared to 0.36 while with the Maple Leafs. Although he played in a limited sample size of just 18 games, the winger added a new element to the Islanders’ lineup every game was a must-win while in the midst of a wildcard race.

“He’s added speed,” said Islanders head coach Lane Lambert about a month after Engvall arrived with the team. “He’s done a real nice job of getting in and hunting down pucks. He’s got little detailed areas that he’s done a really good job at. He’s a big guy, has a long reach and has a good stick.”

Lambert experimented as he tried to find the right for Engvall in the lineup. At first, his speed made him a logical substitute for the recently injured Mathew Barzal, next to Horvat on the top line. But after a few games, Engvall was placed on the second line alongside Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri.

Nelson and Palmieri had skated together all year, putting up solid numbers with a rotating cast filling in on the left side, and found seemingly instant chemistry with Engvall once he joined the fold.

“Pierre is a pretty easy guy to play with,” Nelson said on May 1. “His speed, obviously, is highlighted with him taking the puck and being a big body protecting the puck so well that he’s able to make a lot of plays. He would generate space to kind of suck guys in and open it up for [Palmieri] and I. I think just trying to read him and support him in different spots and kind of let him go. It just seemed to click, and we had a nice little run of reading off one another.”

Engvall, Nelson and Palmieri combined for 31 points in 13 games together and generated an expected goals rate of 8.21 with a Corsi percentage of 62.62%, according to Natural Stat Trick. Without the trio, there’s a good chance the Islanders would have missed the playoffs.

“[Engvall] did a great job,” Palmieri said after the team was eliminated from the postseason. “I was a little familiar with his game just having played against him a couple of times, but I was really impressed. He stepped in…and the results speak for themselves. He did a great job, and he made a huge impact on our team coming down the stretch.”

The Islanders gave up their third-round pick in the upcoming draft to acquire Engvall, which could be considered a steal in the short term. However, it’s also fair to say that the price was so low at the time because he was just a few months away from reaching unrestricted free agency.

In his press conference last week, Islanders President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Lou Lamoriello expressed interest in bringing Engvall back for next season and beyond, but the price may be higher than originally anticipated, given the numbers the winger put up following the trade. With their limited cap space this offseason, it may be too costly for the Islanders to have Engvall return and maintain flexibility to make other moves. 

Whether or not he returns to the Islanders, Engvall will garner plenty of interest when he hits the open market in a matter of weeks now that he’s proven he can play more than a secondary role.


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