Somewhat surprisingly, Pierre Engvall might be the most improved player on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster this season.
While Ilya Mikheyev is finally putting away chances and could be ranked a strong second, the Toronto Maple Leafs are reaping the benefits of shifting Pierre Engvall to the wing.
In past seasons, he’d found himself miscast as the possible solution as a shutdown center, which seemed like an over-reach despite his clear size and reach advantages.
Instead, by playing him on the wing, the Maple Leafs are getting the most out of their seventh round pick from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Toronto Maple Leafs getting more from Pierre Engvall
Last season, Pierre Engvall was used in somewhat of a bit-part role, dropping in and out of the line-up, often used at center and not really excelling in any role. This year, he finds himself making strong plays on the league’s best penalty-kill (especially when you factor their shorthanded scoring), while also playing an important role in the bottom-six.
Of late, with the injury to Ondrej Kase, he’s really cemented his role alongside David Kampf on a defensively focused third line.
His point-scoring has also taken a step in the right direction, as he clearly has found himself in a much more comfortable position playing on the wing.
With 13 goals and 14 assists, he seems likely to top 30 points this season. In fact, his points total this season already matches his combined points total across the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
You can see that the Toronto Maple Leafs have certainly grown to trust him a little more this season, with an extra minute of ice-time on his previous campaigns.
While it may sound like a small fraction of time, that’s a considerable increase given the pure offense the Toronto Maple Leafs have available to them.
Right now though, Pierre Engvall is on a bit of a hot offensive streak himself, with 4 points in his last 4 games including a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning and one against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Of course, some level of his improvement comes from his line-mates and the fact they’ve found some real chemistry.
However, it must be noted that per Dobber Sports, he’s seeing the least offensive zone starts (by percentage) since breaking into the NHL and his 5-on-5 shooting percentage has actually dropped by 2.5% on last year.
Safe to say, he’s really found ways to overcome these challenges and ride them to a much improved season and it’s not wholly on his teammates.
Pierre Engvall might not be the first name that springs to mind when you think about the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it’s safe to say he’s out-playing his seventh-round draft pedigree.
He has found the best way to utilize his size and speed to benefit the Leafs and has shown a very obvious maturation as an NHL player this season.
Right now, he’s the most improved forward in the current group. While the plaudits keep rolling in for the likes of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner; Engvall is quietly getting it done further down the line-up.