For many, there isn’t a more exciting prospect to talk about than a Swedish player that’s putting up points at a consistent rate at a young age. This is so much a case that we even have rules for this phenomena, simply because they tend to prove time and time again that they’re worth NHL looks.
It makes a lot of sense. Swedish hockey programs put a lot of stock into the patient development of players, and because the SHL isn’t quite the top league in Europe, star players are often faced with some sort of graduation crossroads anyway and end up giving the NHL a shot.
Pierre Engvall is starting to get to an age where you wonder if he’ll take that chance, but one thing is for sure; the kid puts numbers on the board.
|Age||21 (May 31, 1996)||Birthplace||Ljungby, Sweden|
|Pos||Forward (LH)||Drafted||2014 (Rd 7, Pick 188)|
|Vitals||6’4, 192lbs||Acquired||Via Draft|
One thing I’ve noticed here is that the Leafs had a pretty good run of seventh round picks for a little while; between 2011 to 2014, Toronto managed to pry out Garret Sparks, Viktor Loov (now in New Jersey but still could potentially play some NHL games), Andreas Johnsson, and Engvall out of the coffers. Maybe that’s just luck, or maybe it’s a reason to show some cautious optimism for the last three years of Hail Mary picks (Nikita Korostelev, Nikolai Chebykin, and Ryan O’Connell).
Whatever the case, Engvall seemed like a pretty good bet right from the get-go. His draft year numbers in his first SuperElit season were quite impressive, finishing fourth in points and second in points-per-game behind three players that were all a year or two older than him. He didn’t tally quite the same points per game (0.897 vs 1.286) as Johnsson did in the same program a year prior, but Johnsson is a much later birthday and had a bit of help in the experience department as a result. Not to mention, he was a hulking, albeit lanky 6’4 forward; those types of guys usually jump up the rankings, so to get one that could score so late in the draft seemed like a gimmie.
|15||2011-12||IF Troja-Ljungby J18||J18 Elit||25||9||4||13||6.8||10||-2|
|16||2012-13||Frölunda HC J18||J18 Elit||20||11||9||20||13.1||16||17|
|16||Frölunda HC J18||J18 Allsvenskan||10||7||7||14||18.4||6||12|
|17||2013-14||Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||39||17||18||35||18.4||42||21|
|18||2014-15||Frölunda HC J20||SuperElit||38||17||34||51||27.5||50||7|
While Engvall didn’t end up quite making it into Frolunda’s top-team plans, a move to Mora IK proved that he was able to keep up with men. His 24 points were good for 5th on his team in scoring in 2015/16, and third in the league in points by a U20 player.
Last season, as his team took a step forward, so did he, finishing 4th on Mora in points, leading them in scoring in the playoffs, and helping them gain promotion into the SHL. He also once again finished third in the league in his age class (this time U21), trailing Canucks prospects Jonathan Dahlen and Elias Pettersson.
|pGPSn||pGPSs||Exp. Success %||Exp. P/82||Exp. Value|
|3 (30/31)||1 (T27/31)||19.7% (14/31)||47.0 (3/31)||9.3 (10/31)|
The above numbers are products of the Prospect Graduation Probabilities System (pGPS), created by Canucks Army to project a prospect’s odds of becoming an NHL regular. For a run-down on what each of these stats mean, head back to the introduction/full list post.
There aren’t exactly a ton of players that have been in Engvall’s position (big, young, racking up points, but in Allsvenskan), so the system naturally doesn’t like his odds of coming across and making a name for itself. Like Miro Aaltonen in the last post, though, Engvall is has been in a bit of a tricky situation; it’s not really his fault that he’s been a young star stuck in a second-tier league in a Pro-Rel system. That “Young Star” bit is what’s keeping his value up, though; the projections feel that if he does make it, he’s probably going to do so as a Top-6 forward, with most of the value coming from his offensive traits.
I mentioned before that it’s odd that Engvall didn’t get the “tall guy” boost when he was drafted. That might be because he doesn’t really throw around that size much on the ice, using it more to give himself some extra reach with the puck and to shield himself from his opponents than he does to deliver hits.
The Upcoming Year
Engvall finds himself with a new team a little further up the Swedish ranks this year, making his SHL debut with HV71, the team that Toronto received Andreas Borgman from this summer. He’s certainly living up to the hype of the jump so far; in his first five games, he’s already picked up four points. Crossing the point per game mark as a 21-year-old SHL rookie would be obscene, to the point where I’m not certain that chasing it will last for him, but it would be incredible if it did.
Based on the fact that Engvall came over to the Marlies at the end of last season, it’s probably a safe bet to say that he’d like to come across to North America eventually. This is his fourth post-draft, year, however, so if Toronto is interested in bringing him over, they’ll have to make a decision in the coming months; even if that decision is to sign him and leave him in Europe for another year, like they did with Johnsson in 2015.
In that sense, Engvall is an “if it works out, great” type of prospect. Not one you’re holding your breath on, but definitely, one whose potential to add some flexibility to your depth chart gets you excited. You can’t ask for much more out of a seventh-round pick, can you?
To see the other profiles in this year’s series, please reference the full list.
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