The Toronto Marlies have added two players to the roster, one a familiar face, that’s his mugshot from last year on the left, and one a new name to learn about.
Everyone reads the European Report each Sunday, so you all know about Leafs draft-pick Pierre Engvall. In case you missed it, this was his playoff experience in his first SHL season:
It was the best of times and the worst of times for Pierre Engvall. He and HV71 were in the play-in vs Linköping to get one of the lower two seeds in the quarterfinals. This round is a best of three series, and that means there is very little margin for error.
HV71, the defending champion, is not the team it was last year. We took Andreas Borgman, the Sharks took Filip Sandberg, and two of their top forwards by points moved to other teams, one in the KHL. Your reward in the SHL for winning is to get picked clean in the summer.
Which is exactly how Engvall got a job on the team in his first year in the SHL at 21. Leading up to the playoffs, he’s crept up the lineup, but for game one, he was back on the fourth line RW. His line were on fire, however. They were always in the offensive zone, always getting chances, and no coach (who isn’t Russian) is going to just play the other guys over the hot line. They played the most minutes in the game, and got the only goal, scored by Engvall, as they lost 3-1.
Game two became a must-win for HV71 with that loss. It started very oddly, with some shenanigans in the warmup that turned into a full on pushing and shoving session. There is talk of suspensions, but Engvall, who was reported to be in on the early vocal sparring, didn’t get involved in the physical stuff.
Engvall got the honour, and it is an honour even if it’s a tough job, of being on the ice as the second game ended, at first because a miracle goal could turn the tide, which they got, but they needed two, and then it became that dubious reward for being the man the coach trusts to see it to the end.
Engvall turns 22 soon, and is one of the HV71 players returning next season. They will be picked clean again this summer, so guessing what his team will look like is impossible. For now, he gets his second chance on the Marlies. He came over last year, played in one game, and looked out of his depth. No more. If nothing else, this season has shown him what he can do; now he has to show the Leafs.
He is a tall guy who plays a game that might be too soft for the AHL; we’ll have to see. He’s smart with the puck, passes well, scores in streaks, goes cold for weeks, and has been a right wing for most of this season although he shoots left.
He stuck around in Toronto last summer for the prospect camps and did some media, where it became clear his English isn’t at the level of the perfectly fluent Timothy Liljegren or the nearly fluent Andreas Johnsson. Wherever will he find a Swede to help him on the Marlies, though?
I think we should expect to see Engvall in games fairly quickly and playing well. The Leafs’ draft rights expire on June 1, so the spotlight will be on him and the right people will be watching.
I know nothing about Brady Ferguson, so let’s learn together. He’s from Texas according to one source, but a longer profile says he started out playing roller hockey in California before moving to Texas.
He is 23, listed at six feet tall and around 200 pounds, so an average guy for hockey. He’s a left-shooting left wing, and he has been playing for four years for Robert Morris University in the NCAA. That’s a Division I team in Pennsylvania. Before that he played on the Dallas Stars U18 team and a team in Amarillo. (Expansion to new markets plant seeds that come play on the Marlies when they grow up.)
He’s scored over a point per game in the NCAA, and consistently, not just as an old man of 23. This is better than Tyler Bozak’s college numbers by a bit.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a story on him in December putting forward the idea that he could become an NHL player. That’s a nice set of college numbers, so it’s not impossible, but to put that in perspective, he’s a bit below the career total of Jimmey Vesey, who was drafted, signed as a free agent with the Rangers, and looks like a depth winger who has a good shot in his second NHL year. Ferguson is less of a personal goal scorer.
Head coach Derek Schooley believes Ferguson has a chance to become the first player in program history to sign an NHL contract once the season is over — a rare feat for a Texas player. Ferguson went undrafted in the 2017 draft, but was one of 40 players invited to the Penguins’ NHL development camp last June.
“It’s one of those things where you see a kid coming from a non-traditional hockey area, that has some talent that is finally realizing all of the talent he has, the potential he has, he’s reaching that,” Schooley said. “And is there more room to grow? Absolutely. And you get that from guys that are coming from the nontraditional hockey markets to where they can continue to get better and continue to grow and continue to produce. He hasn’t reached his potential yet.”
In that profile, Ferguson talked about looking up to Paul Kariya as a fellow small player, so I’m not convinced his listed height is accurate. More importantly, Feguson is a good PKer who led the NCAA in shorties, according to his coach, in the 2016-2017 season. He is described as an all-around utility player, which is going to get him farther than a passable wrist shot and nothing else.
He sounds like another Trevor Moore, and he’s been a key part of the Marlies since he was signed.
The Marlies play their next game on Friday in Belleville.
The Sabres site has a profile of Ferguson today: