When the Islanders acquired forward Pierre Engvall from the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline last February, it was not exactly a headline-making acquisition by president and general manager Lou Lamoriello.
But, as it turned out, the Islanders may have found a hidden gem for the third-round pick that it cost them to bring Engvall to Long Island.
Over the last 18 games of the regular season, Engvall tallied five goals and four assists for nine points and then added a goal and an assist over six games in the playoffs.
Engvall was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the seventh round (188th overall) in 2014 after he tallied 35 points (17 goals and 18 assists) for Frolunda’s Under-20 team in Sweden. Out of the shadows of players like Austin Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner in Toronto, Engvall was able to fit in nicely with the Islanders.
“I got here and it took some games to get going but when I got going, I felt good and I continued to build on that,” Engvall told Greater Long Island last week as the Islanders began training camp at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
“I think it felt good pretty much right away when I got here,” he said. “I just want to continue to build on that. I got to play with really good players and I got to show more of what I had defensively.”
The unrestricted free agent felt like he found a home with the Islanders and the feeling was mutual so the Islanders re-signed Engvall to a new seven-year deal worth $21 million this offseason.
Engvall is going to be a long-term fixture on an Islanders team looking to bring Lord Stanley back to Long Island.
“I’m excited for seven more years,” said the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Engvall. “When I got traded, I felt good from the beginning with the guys and everything else. I felt like it was a really good choice for me to stay here and really happy for the seven years.”
Engvall was not the only player that the Islanders re-signed over the summer. Goalie Ilya Sorokin signed an eight-year contract extension, while also resigning backup goalie Semyon Varlamov to a four-year deal and defenseman Scott Mayfield to a seven-year contract. The team also gave fellow 2023 trade deadline acquisition, Bo Horvat, an eight-year extension in February.
Last year’s band — aside from Zach Parise (contemplating retirement) and Josh Bailey (now with Senators) — is pretty much all back together.
“It’s just the group of guys we have here,” said the native of Llungby, Sweden. “To stay with those guys for seven years hopefully and compete for the (Stanley) Cup in the coming years felt like the best option for me.”
The Islanders are into Week Two of training camp with their pre-season opener set for Tuesday night against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and then the pre-season home opener on Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at UBS Arena.
After a heartbreaking six-game loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the opening round of last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs, Engvall and the Islanders have turned the page and are ready to embark on the new season, growing as a team and taking the next step.
“I’m really excited,” said Engvall. “I think everyone has been waiting for it the whole summer. You can see in everyone’s faces that they’re happy to get going. We were close (last season). We’re really excited to get going for a new season.”
Pierre Engvall and the Islanders open up the 2023-24 season at home on Saturday, Oct. 14 against the Buffalo Sabres. Much like the trade that brought Engvall to Long Island last season, the Islanders are kind of flying under the radar heading into the new NHL season. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Islanders have +5000 odds to win it all, which is tied for 19th best odds with the Winnipeg Jets.
That’s fine for Engvall and the Isles who will just try to keep proving everybody wrong.
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Top: New York Islanders’ Pierre Engvall (18) during the first period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes Friday, April 28, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)