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.