The big news in the NHL last night was the frustrating continuation of franchises being born on 3rd base thinking they hit a triple: The Chicago Blackhawks, who just ignominously completed a decade of generational draft fortune to the tune of three Stanley Cups — despite multiple management missteps and near-criminal negligence — by tanking without shame, have just won the draft lottery for the NHL’s next generational player.
A season in which they finally kicked franchise stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews out the door now concludes with the impending acquisition of Connor Bedard.
Meanwhile Columbus, which comes by its terrible seasons and brief Cinderella upsets honestly, continues to get no lottery luck.
Islanders Topic: Will Pierre Engvall stay?
With the Islanders still silent, today we propose the question of one of their more interesting off-season decisions: Pierre Engvall, unrestricted free agent at (soon-to-be) age 27.
Engvall is coming off a one-year, $2.25 million deal, his third NHL contract, that took him into unrestricted free agency. With a chance to keep him for longer last summer, the Leafs said “not bloody likely,” having several larger issues on their top-heavy roster to contend with. They turned him into a cap dump (and third-round pick, a nice bonus) at the deadline while addressing some of those issues.
With the Leafs this season, he had 21 points (12G, 9A) in 58 games. With the Islanders, he started slow, even benched for a couple in-game stretches as he adapted to the Islanders’ system, then ended up becoming a decent contributor, more with his transition and zone entry impact rather than any gaudy numbers.
It’s a small sample and doesn’t knock your socks off: 9 points (5G, 4A) in 18 regular season games, followed by a couple of points (1G, 1A) in an impressive Game 5 of the six-game series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. But it’s his presence on an aging team that can use speed wherever it can get it, which makes him a tempting resigning.
Then again...what if you’re in Engvall’s shoes? You haven’t cashed in yet in the NHL. You are in your prime. If there is going to be a windfall — whether in annual salary or in long-term security — this is probably the moment. Unless he wants to take the rare-at-this-age step of betting on himself with a one-year deal again, and assume that the Isles will give him the opportunity to strengthen his resume further, he should probably shop himself around or hold out for a big commitment from the Isles.
But...he had 30 points in 76 games. He’ll turn 27 this month without ever having been used as a go-to guy. If Lou Lamoriello (assuming he’s here) wants to offer another term-for-lower-AAV deal, would Engvall bite? Engvall said all the right things toward the end of the season about liking it here and fitting in, but he’ll want a decent commitment now that he can demand one for the first time in his career.
What are the chances Engvall is an Islander in 2023-24?
This poll is closed
100% - The Islanders love them some bottom six forwards
75% - The Islanders will make this happen and announce it in September
50% - The Isles probably want it, but Engvall probably dips his toe in the market
25% - Lou drives a hard bargain, and Pierre says I can go where I’m loved
0% - They don’t have the room, and he doesn’t have the desire
If, say, the Islanders cleaned house and new management came in, you could see a newcomer say I’ve got enough aging long-term contracts as it is, I’m not giving term to someone who is not a clear difference maker.
But with the current regime, Lou Lamoriello is always about competing for today; having traded for him and presumably got what he believed he was buying, Engvall is the kind of guy Lou would double down on in the eternal quest to get into the playoffs and hope something good happens.
- The Islanders could’ve gone long with rising Noah Dobson last summer but chose a short-term bridge deal instead. Right call? [THN]
- Stan Fischler: Comparing The Hockey News preseason predictions with what ended up happening. [THN]
- There can never be enough praise for legendary hockey photographer Bruce Bennett, who has captured so many of the important moments in Islanders history. [THN]
- Vegas lost goalie Laurent Brossoit to injury but beat the Oilers handily (and chased their Calder nominee goalie) to take a 2-1 series lead. [NHL]
- Tomas Steak Tatar was fined $5,000 for high-sticking Sebastian Aho The Mangled, who has taken his share of knocks this postseason. [TSN | NHL]
- Blasted from Game 3 by a sliding Luke Schenn, Ilya Samsonov “felt better” yesterday and could be a candidate for Game 4, aided by the two-day break. [NHL]
- Down 0-3 in the series, the Maple Leafs have a plan: “Got to win one.” [TSN]
- The Leafs’ vaunted core four have not performed, which ramps up the pressure (and increases the Leafs Fans Turning On Everyone game, which is fun). [Sportsnet]
- Bourne: Do the Leafs’ Core Four still even believe in themselves? [Sportsnet]
- Bedard’s great uncle James Bedard played 22 games with the Black Hawks of the Original Six era, so sure, there’s that. [NHL]
- This wasn’t actually a big deal like some are making out, but yes ESPN verbally revealed Columbus had the third pick before Jim Daly turned over the card that showed Columbus was picking third. [NHL]
- The Canucks have been fined $50,000 for violating offseason training rules. Apparently the Sedin twins worked with some guys after the season concluded, a no-no since the Sedins are team employees. [Sportsnet]