Pierre Engvall was traded to the New York Islanders last season. He’s obviously thriving there and just signed a long-term deal with his new team.
Engvall is a versatile forward who split his time between the Maple Leafs and the Islanders last season. During the offseason, Engvall officially signed a seven-year contract worth $21 million with the Islanders, as reported by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.
Engvall showcased his skill and potential last season by scoring 17 goals and adding 13 assists (for 30 points) in 76 games split between the Maple Leafs and the Islanders. His performance impressed the Islanders’ management enough to lead to this long-term contract.
Expect Engvall to Play a Significant Role with the Islanders
During the 2023-24 season, Engvall is expected to play a crucial role with the Islanders as part of the team’s middle-six forward group. There he will provide valuable depth and offensive firepower to the lineup. Engvall is also expected to be part of the Islanders’ power play. If that happens, expect him to set new career highs for scoring.
His new contract shows the Islanders’ confidence in Engvall’s ability to continue to grow as a player. However, Engvall attributes much of his growth to his time with the Maple Leafs. Specifically, he credits Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe with making a difference in his development.
For Engvall, Keefe’s Belief Mattered in His Growth
Engvall recently shared insights into his journey from being a Maple Leafs prospect to his current NHL success. In a conversation with Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Friedman on “32 Thoughts,” Engvall shared his gratitude for his time in Toronto and gave reasons why Keefe played a key role in his development.
Engvall also shared his deep appreciation for his time in Toronto. However, he also acknowledged the challenges of playing in a high-pressure market with relentless media and fan scrutiny.
He noted, “The media was always good to me, and everyone was really good. I have nothing bad to say about that. You can feel it’s more pressure there, I think. You can feel it in the air, somehow. I think it was great to play for Toronto, and I think it really gets you ready for what’s coming next. I had a great time there, and I think I developed well playing for Toronto.”
Engvall Rose from a Seventh-Round Pick to a Solid NHL Player
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Engvall’s journey to the NHL had some challenges. In his early days with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, he had trouble adjusting to a new life far away from his home in Sweden.
He also admitted that his first season wasn’t that great. However, he survived and made the adjustments he needed to make. As a result, he ultimately had success in the AHL before earning his NHL call-up.
For Engvall, Keefe was a key figure. Engvall believed in Keefe’s coaching abilities, both in the AHL and the NHL. He shared that Keefe recognized what he could do in the AHL and then helped him translate those skills to the NHL level.
Engvall and Keefe’s Relationship Had Some Intensity
In the interview, Friedman noted that he had spoken to a Maple Leafs player who mentioned that interactions between Keefe and Engvall occasionally got intense. However, it was because Keefe had a genuine belief in Engvall’s potential.
Engvall affirmed that Keefe’s honesty was a hallmark of their relationship. Keefe wasn’t afraid to tell Engvall when he needed to improve his performance, and that honesty helped contribute to their strong relationship.
The Bottom Line
Engvall’s journey from a late-round draft pick to a successful NHL player is a testament to both his resilience and the guidance of his coach. In the end, he had nothing but good things to say about his time in Toronto and playing for coach Keefe.
Keefe’s belief in Engvall’s abilities played a crucial role in his development. It also shows that coaches – even when they are “intense” can impact a player’s hockey talent. Engvall’s NHL success is a story of his embracing the guidance of a mentor who believed in his potential.
Not a bad story at all.