Since I read about two years ago that Pierre Engvall was a bit of a workout nut and was one of the strongest and fittest of all the Toronto Maple Leafs’ players at training camp, I’ve been watching his career. I thought he would become a strong NHL player.
What Happened to Engvall’s Great Start with the Maple Leafs’ Organization?
When he joined the Toronto Marlies as a player during their Calder Cup run – Sheldon Keefe was the Marlies’ coach then by the way – I read that Keefe threw Engvall into difficult and new situations and he delivered. Then, I thought it was the icing on the cake when Keefe was flown into Arizona to take over from the fired Mike Babcock and he brought Engvall with him on the plane. By the way, Engvall scored during that first game in Phoenix to help give Keefe his first win as an NHL coach.
Given all that, Engvall had to be on his way upwards towards becoming at least a solid NHL player. But it didn’t happen. Somewhere between his first NHL goal and the 2021-22 training camp, something went south. He seemed to fall out of Keefe’s good books. Then, when he was injured during this training camp and couldn’t put up a fight for a roster spot, there was some real concern among Engvall fans that he might be headed toward the waiver wires.
Can Engvall Re-Plant Himself Into Keefe’s Garden?
Perhaps Engvall fell out of Keefe’s good books because some of the things that Engvall used to do he doesn’t seem to do anymore. One of those is that he simply isn’t as physical as he used to be. He no longer seemed to use his size and strength as an advantage. He doesn’t seem to engage the opposition; instead, he sort of does “flybys” in the corners and waves his stick at the other team’s puck carriers.
Fortunately for Engvall, when he came back from his injury he was able to play in two preseason games. He scored three goals. Although one was an empty-netter at the end of a game, the other two were legitimate goals and in fact great shots.
Can Engvall Take Advantage of His Opportunity?
Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, 27-year-old Ilya Mikheyev fell awkwardly on his hand and looks to be out for a while. Could the team’s bad fortune turn into something that’s good for Engvall personally? With Mikyeyev’s injury, Engvall looks as if he’ll be getting a chance to contribute to the team.
After the last preseason game where Engvall substituted in for Mikheyev, coach Keefe weighed in about Engvall’s success. His comment was “He’s trying to establish himself and I thought he did a really good job asserting himself once Mikheyev left. He skated and worked. He’s one of those guys who is going to get more of an opportunity now.” (from “Engvall ready for increased opportunity with Maple Leafs, Brooks placed on waivers, Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun, 10/10/21).
Can Engvall Turn the Corner this Season?
Engvall managed seven goals and 12 points in 42 games with Toronto last season. Can Engvall turn the corner? Can he once and for all find a place on this team? In fact, could he score 35 points this season? Will his flexibility as a center or winger help him establish himself as a valuable option for his team?
That’s the question it seems Engvall will have a chance to answer this season with Mikheyev gone. Engvall has had some jump in his game. He’s been a big part of his team’s preseason wins. Can he become part of his team’s regular-season wins?
Given what his old Marlies’ coach and current Maple Leafs’ coach says, he’ll have a chance to do so.
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