According to the ever-invaluable salary cap resource CapFriendly, the Toronto Maple Leafs have called up Pierre Engvall from their AHL reserve roster and onto their Taxi Squad.
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) January 17, 2021
Engvall was assigned to the Marlies in a wave of end-of-camp cuts on January 11th, and was perhaps the biggest name of the group. Engvall, who played his first 52 regular season and playoff games in the NHL last season, is in the first year of a two-year contract extension, but did not show enough in training camp to warrant a roster spot.
The logic at the time (explained in the above-linked piece), was that Engvall was best served to get some heavy AHL playing time to re-find his game, rather than sitting around with the taxi squad. However, Nick Robertson’s injury yesterday put a wrench in this, requiring the Leafs to promote a player upward. It goes without saying that Engvall is the best available option of the bunch.
This also brings a bit of understand as to why the waiver assignments of Aaron Dell and Jason Spezza happened today specifically. Should this mean that Engvall gets himself into some games, a promotion from the taxi squad to the main roster will give him a cap hit (pro-rated by days) of about $300,000 more than a league-minimum player. This will require Toronto to run a shorter roster, meaning that say, if Engvall draws in on a night that Jason Spezza get the night off, his taxi squad assignment will give them the paper room that they need.
Essentially, the bigger look here is that it allows Engvall to be a viable option to play in a given night rather than just a body on the squad.