It was evident from the moment GM Lou Lamoriello acquired Pierre Engvall from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2024 third-round pick that he hoped to extend him after the season. The Swedish-born 27-year-old possessed skills the team lacked - mainly speed, and Lamoriello felt all Engvall had the ability to take the next step in his career.
Engvall did everything he could to prove he was worthy of a new contract from the Islanders, and on Saturday, he got one - a long one, agreeing to a seven-year deal carrying a $3M AAV per year. "He brings speed to the game, and he's got outstanding range," Lamoriello said. "He has hockey sense, and I think he's only going to get better and better."
After being benched during the third periods in his first few games as he became accustomed to the team's style of play, he flourished on a line with Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri that helped propel the Islanders to the playoffs. In fact, the Isles scored 5.18 goals-per-60 with Engvall on the ice over his 18 games with the team. Impressive.
The $3M AAV is right around what Engvall's worth is at the moment - perhaps a slight overpay, but nothing that raised eyebrows around the league. However, the term sure did.
Engvall is already 27, meaning this deal with carry him into his mid-30s, and speed is an integral part of his game. If his play regresses from its current level, the backend of the deal could be a tough number to carry on the roster. However, Lamoriello and the Isles are banking that Engvall's game has plenty of room to grow and that the $3MAVV will look like a bargain compared to the type of production he is capable of producing with an elevated role.
"He's had tremendous growth," Lamoriello said. "You're going to find dividends in this young man."
Lamoriello and the Isles better be right. Otherwise, instead of Engvall paying dividends, the team will be paying the price.