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Deryk Engelland, The Lone UFA Signed During Expansion

Sometimes in sports, things just make too much sense to not happen. That was the case with Las Vegas native and pending UFA Deryk Engelland.

The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year $1M contract with the Golden Knights during the Expansion Draft making him the selection from the Calgary Flames.

Was it more of a priority to sign Deryk Engelland or was it more based off Calgary’s protected list?

It was a little of both. We had interest in him and he was there and there’s some things we didn’t like about what else is available and we just thought this would be a good fit for us. Leadership, some grit, some size, and he’s from Vegas. –George McPhee

One has to wonder how important physically being at the Expansion Draft was as well.

We aren’t going to sign someone just because they’re from Vegas but we liked him. It didn’t matter where he’s from, it just happens to be really nice that he is from Vegas. -McPhee

Engelland is a former Las Vegas Wrangler and met his wife while playing in Vegas. He resides in Vegas and has done so for the past 12 years. But, he was a free agent, and even he was caught off guard by McPhee’s interest during the 72-hour UFA window.

When the freeze hit they called me and said they were interested. Obviously, I didn’t think they would take me during the Expansion Draft because they could talk to me in a few days here. So for them to call me and say they were interested was pretty exciting. It was a long three days to finally get it all done and to be part of the team here. –Engelland

The Flames protected seven forwards and three defensemen which left somewhat of slim pickings for the Golden Knights. Troy Brouwer was the name getting the most pub, but Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, and 22-year-old Hunter Shinkaruk were all also available to be selected. Bear in mind, Vegas could have taken any of these players, and still signed Engelland on July 1st.

We’ll probably never know what “things they didn’t like” about the other available players from Calgary, but what we certainly can take from this is they valued Engelland’s off-ice contributions and weren’t willing to take the risk of letting him slip away when the other 29 teams had a chance to negotiate with him next week.

Either way, Engelland is now a Golden Knight, and will forever remain the only UFA Vegas signed during their unprecedented 72-hour window. He’ll probably not be expected to log major minutes for a team whose only real depth is on the blue line, but he will be expected to get out and sell the game of hockey to his adopted hometown. Something he actually started before he became a Golden Knights.

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8 Comments

  1. R.J.

    I love Engelland! I’m glad he’s going to be a part of the Knights this year. Sure, he’s not the top-4, minute eating, smooth-skating Defenseman that every team desires. But guaranteed, the first time he patrols the ice and drops his gloves to protect a teammate, he’ll instantly be loved by the fans. Plus, he can be a great mentor to some of the young Knights coming on the team.

    Welcome to Las Vegas, Deryk!

  2. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    Here’s a question for you. If we want to send Carrier, Nosek, Leipsic and Brickley to the minors do they have to pass through waivers? Selecting Nosek would make more sense if the answer is no.

    McPhee really doesn’t have much leverage. The numbers don’t add up. Can any other expansion draftees be stashed in the minors to help with the number crunch?

    Do you think Gerard Gallant wanted Alexei Emelin? He’s Gallant’s kind of player. I thought we passed on better Montreal Canadiens …

    • None of the four of them are waiver exempt. This and the contract numbers are something we must look much more into, so I’m not going to give any opinions on that yet because I’m not sure how everything works with the expansion rules. I agree though, on the surface, it doesn’t make a ton of sense.

      It’s certainly a possibility. He told us the only teams he was really asked for input on were Florida and Montreal. We will certainly ask him Tuesday if we get a chance.

      • James

        @Ken Boehlke
        Former general manager Brian Lawton picked Nosek in a mock draft on NHL Network. He said Nosek was the best Grand Rapids Griffin during the Calder Cup playoff run and has chemistry with Tomas Hyka.

  3. RJ

    I don’t understand how any of this works. I’m glad Engelland is on the team, but couldn’t we have negotiated during the expansion window, drafted nice prospect Brett Kulak, then signed Engelland on July 1 anyway? Am I taking crazy pills? Why did McPhee leave so much value on the table? I understand he wanted to stockpile Dmen, but why did he stockpile BAD ones? I WANT TO LOVE THIS BUT I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

    Oh well. I like Engelland.

  4. James

    @RJ
    ‘I don’t understand how any of this works. I’m glad Engelland is on the team, but couldn’t we have negotiated during the expansion window, drafted nice prospect Brett Kulak, then signed Engelland on July 1 anyway? Am I taking crazy pills? Why did McPhee leave so much value on the table?’

    I wonder if Bill Foley insisted on signing feel good story of the day Engelland. I would have taken Brett Kulak. Hunter Shinkaruk has potential. Lance Bouma is a serviceable player, and he is still fairly young.

    ‘I understand he wanted to stockpile Dmen, but why did he stockpile BAD ones?’

    I would have taken Brandon Davidson over Alexei Emelin. Charles Hudon has potential … It will be interesting to see if Emelin has any trade value. Personally, I think we did Montreal a big favour by absorbing his salary.

  5. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    ‘This and the contract numbers are something we must look much more into, so I’m not going to give any opinions on that yet because I’m not sure how everything works with the expansion rules.’

    That’s a good point. McPhee had to select some veteran big-ticket items to be cap compliant, and pass on some inexpensive projects.

  6. Slack

    Add me to the “Confused” list. That said, I realize that of the information that is public, it might be 1 or 2% of what GMGM and staff know. That makes it tough, nay, impossible to judge. (It’s a good think Ken was on the draft floor sitting at the Knights of the Rectangle Table getting all the inside scoop and will fill us peasants in later. Ha!)
    I think it comes down to this. The plan of VGK was to find that delicate balance of “Suck Now/Hopeful Quick Rise Later” and “Mediocre Now/Hopeful Slow Build Later”. It appears to me, they are leaning a little too far in the Suck Now direction but who knows. It could be a real rough ride the first few years, but only time will tell. It will be interesting to watch if fans let this play out, as I think they should, before calling for heads to roll.

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