Pierre Engvall is going to be afforded more opportunities with his new team, the New York Islanders, compared to the offensively-loaded Toronto Maple Leafs.
A bottom-six winger up North, the 26-year-old found himself practicing with the Islanders’ first line of Bo Horvat and Anders Lee during his first day with the team on Thursday.
“They’re two great players,” Engvall said. “I’m really happy I get to play with them at the start… I see myself as a two-way player but my skating is my biggest asset. I’m really happy to get the chance with those guys.”
He’ll certainly add an influx of speed to the first line that had been sorely lacking after Mathew Barzal’s injury. Simon Holmstrom, who admitted back at training camp that he needs to work on his skating the most, had been getting first-line minutes over the last two weeks.
Adding Lee to that equation certainly doesn’t offer the promise of a quick-moving trio — even with Horvat pulling the strings.
“I like him. Good size and he skates well,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “With any player that comes in and it’s his first day on the ice and he’s getting climatized to a new environment, I thought he did well.
“[With the first line] I think he’s going to be able to get out on the forecheck and make some things happen and create some space.”
It was Engvall’s speed that Lamoriello harped on when speaking on Tuesday after acquiring the winger, who was in Seattle with the Maple Leafs when he found out.
“I didn’t even know I was getting traded,” Engvall said. “It’s definitely strange and we just jumped on a plane right away and come here. But it feels really good to be here and I’m really excited to get going.”
The Swede has built the foundation of his pro game on just that, allowing him to be a quality forechecker and invaluable penalty killer. The one thing that has consistently alluded him at the NHL level, though, is consistent goal-scoring.
His career-high is 15 last season after scoring a combined 15 over his first two NHL seasons (90 games). Through 58 games in 2022-23, he has 12 with nine assists.
The hope, at least from the Islanders, is that a change of scenery and more opportunities could unlock a new level to his game.
“I think it’s possible. We’ll have to wait and see,” Lambert said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but I think there’s certainly a possibility for him to get some more opportunities.”