The New York Islanders acquired two players during this 2022-23 season. The first was Bo Horvat, but the latest was 26-year-old forward Pierre Engvall, who was brought in this past Tuesday as additional support to a banged-up forward group.
The four-year NHLer has 12 goals and nine assists in 58 games and is a versatile six-foot-five forward who can play all three forward positions.
“I like his speed. I like the speed that he brings,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said following Friday’s practice. “He’s done things that I’ve seen that show me that he’s got a good understanding of the game, especially coming into a new system, and he’s picking up on it quickly.”
NYI Hockey Now caught up with Pierre Engvall following practice to get his take on what it’s been like the last few days with his new teammates and more.
Engvall left a Toronto Maple Leafs team that he had spent his whole career with, a team that failed to get over the first-round hump but one that was sitting comfortably in a playoff spot.
He now joins a brand-new team in the midst of a dogfight to get into the postseason.
So far, so good after two days.
“I think it’s going good,” Engvall said. “I think some of that system is the same as I’m used to, so I think the newest thing is the penalty kill.”
Engvall has been practicing on the second penalty-kill unit.
“Just like a little bit different, like, how we kill,” Engvall said. “How I used to kill was more pushing down and more that way (aggressive), and now it’s a little more patient and doing it that way. So a little different.”
Engvall is a native of Sweden, but growing up, his favorite player hailed from Czechoslovakia.
“When I was younger, my idol was Marian Gaborik. I like the way he played, with his skating and the speed and, you know, just the way he shot the puck and stick handling, and I think that was the biggest thing,” Engvall said.
He had no allegiance to an NHL team growing up.
“Honestly, I just followed the players. I didn’t have like a special team,” Engvall said. “I liked Ovechkin and, of course, Sidney Crosby, those guys… Forsberg, Sundin, but I gotta say my favorite was Gaborik.”
Engvall had said previously that he knew Simon Holmstrom and Sebastian Aho, two players from Sweden, but that the group has made him feel welcome.
“I gotta say, I think all of the guys have been really, really good to me. And it seems like a great group, and I feel like everyone is chatting with everyone,” he said. “I’m having a good time. So I really, really like it so far.”
Right off the bat, Lambert slotted Engvall alongside Bo Horvat and Anders Lee. He remained there during Friday’s practice and is expected to play his first game alongside those two.
“They’re two really good players, and they’ve been good for many years. So I think my game is going to fit well, and I’m just going to keep playing my game,” Engvall said. “I’m having fun with those guys.”
Engvall doesn’t believe it’s going to take him a few shifts to get used to being in a new jersey, a new system.
“I don’t think so. I haven’t thought about it to be honest,” he said. “I’m just gonna go out there and play my game and then just do as good as I can.”
We know about Engvall’s speed. He’s shown off his shot in practice. But for those that haven’t seen him play, he likes to possess the puck and take it 200 feet.
“I like to skate with the puck. So if I get it down low, I like to beat the guy and take it up the middle and create offense that way,” Engvall said. “I think that’s one of my better things.”
Pierre Engvall has played on UBS Arena ice once during the 2021-22 season, as he scored the eventual game-winner in Toronto’s 3-1 win over New York on Jan. 22 of 2022.
He remembers the Islanders crowd and is ready to hear them Saturday, this time rooting for him.
“I remember playing here. It’s really loud,” he said. “People are really cheering for the team. So it’s really fun to play there.”