Some appreciate his play, most don’t, but there’s no question he’s beloved by the fanbase.
That’s Deryk Engelland.
When a bad play leads to a goal some fans are quick to point out the last guy defending the puck. Which at times, happens to be Engelland. However, it can take a series of events why a team gave up a goal. We can’t always blame the guy that made the initial turnover or the last line defense. It is a team sport after all.
Believe it or not, Engelland has proven to be a valuable asset to the Golden Knights organization. And in many ways. We all know his community impact, leadership skills, and that he’s an overall good dude.
But there’s more. Engelland helped one of the Golden Knights core players, Shea Theodore grow, and is in the process of breaking in two and possibly more defensive prospects this season. Consider Engelland as a defensive coach on the ice, or training wheels. And he’s only charging the league minimum.
First of all, we like to try to put experience with a little bit of inexperience. Just to give them a little bit of a safety valve. -Ryan McGill
His minutes have dipped, but so did his salary. Relative to his contract, he’s expected to play a third-pair role, protected by high offensive zone starts, and busting ass on the penalty kill. That’s the job description for most team’s 5th-7th defenseman. Not many have the extra skills to be an on-ice prospect developer.
For just the second time this season, the Golden Knights will see a new defensive pair along their blueline. Following the injury to Nate Schmidt, Nic Hague was placed into the lineup playing alongside Deryk Engelland. He held that position for seven straight games, recording two assists, six shots on goal, and averaging 14:28 per game.
Tonight, however, Hague will watch from the press box as Jake Bischoff is slated to make his NHL debut. Bischoff made the Golden Knights roster out of training camp last year, stayed with the team for about three weeks, but never drew into a game. This year, he was sent to the AHL out of training camp before being recalled eight days ago to replace Jimmy Schuldt.
Like Hague, his defense partner will be Deryk Engelland as the two slot in as the Golden Knights third pair.
Recently, speaking at a fan Q&A hosted at Jaguar & Land Rover Las Vegas, assistant coaches Ryan McGill and Mike Kelly were asked about what goes into the decision-making process of picking defensive pairs.
First of all, we like to try to put experience with a little bit of inexperience. Just to give them a little bit of a safety valve. Number two, you want to have somebody that can move the puck up the ice quick or that can be involved with the play with another guy that can watch his back. -Ryan McGill
McGill is the assistant that handles the Golden Knights defense.
But the biggest thing trying to find chemistry. If you don’t find chemistry you can’t have those players together all the time. -McGill
Kelly, who has worked alongside Gerard Gallant for nearly a decade, piggybacked McGill’s comments.
If something happens on the ice where it didn’t go well for the younger guy, he makes a mistake, he’s going back to the bench with the guy he’s playing with. You like to have someone who is a good person with experience whispering in his ear saying ‘don’t worry about it kid.’ -Mike Kelly
The Golden Knights have always had a heavy focus on leadership, character, and other unquantifiable intangibles. Through two years and eight games, it’s hard to argue against its success.
You put them with people that you think it’s going to work with and you kind of look the other way, cross your fingers, and hope it works. Most of the time it does. Sometimes they are going to hit a rocky patch but you know if they are with a Deryk Engelland you know they are hearing the right words. -Kelly
Every rookie that’s come through the Golden Knight d-corps, Hague, Schuldt, Whitecloud, and Theodore, has found their way to Engelland’s side.
Now it’s Jake Bischoff’s turn. Here’s to hoping there aren’t too many “don’t worry about it kid” comments needed from Engelland tonight in Pittsburgh.
Since the start of the franchise, one of the constants has been Deryk Engelland. The 37-year-old veteran has been trusted to shoulder a lot of the defensive responsibility for the Golden Knights no matter the situation.
He’s consistently been the first man over the boards any time the Golden Knights are killing a penalty. He’s been paired with top defensemen (Schmidt, McNabb, Theodore) throughout the entirety of his VGK career, and he’s third in total ice time for Golden Knights skaters in franchise history.
But through three games, there’s started to be a shift. His minutes are starting to decline, he’s starting fewer shifts in the defensive zone, and his production is dipping with it.
Engelland’s average time on ice this season is 17:59, which is down more than two minutes from his Golden Knights career average. This number is heavily aided by the 13 power plays Vegas has defended. He’s spent 14:34 on the kill, with the next closest Golden Knight more than three minutes behind at 11:21 (McNabb).
Thus, with penalty kill time up and total time down, that means he’s playing much less at even strength. Digging into it, the numbers are alarming. Here are the 5-on-5 TOI numbers for Vegas defensemen through three games.
Holden – 60:28 (20:09 per game) Merrill – 57:28 (19:09 per game) McNabb – 48:34 (16:11 per game) Theodore – 48:01 (16:00 per game) Engelland – 38:48 (12:56 per game) Hague – 25:01 (12:30 per game) Schmidt – 2:22
Yep, you are reading that right, Nick Holden is receiving seven more minutes per game at even strength than Engelland. Last night, Engelland played nine fewer minutes than Jon Merrill at even strength.
Last year, Engelland averaged 16:30 of even-strength time per game. They leaned on him even heavier in the playoffs averaging 17:34 per game at even strength against the Sharks. That’s almost four and five minutes more than he’s gotten to open this season, while his PK time has remained virtually the same.
When the Golden Knights take the ice on October 2nd there will likely only be one change along the blue line. Out went Colin Miller and in comes the winner of the rookie defenseman battle between Jimmy Schuldt, Nic Hague, Zach Whitecloud, Jake Bischoff, and Dylan Coghlan.
However, the way they line up may have to change with the new makeup of the defense. With Miller in Buffalo, the Golden Knights are left with just one right-handed defenseman among the guaranteed mix. That leaves plenty of options in how Gerard Gallant and Ryan McGill will set the pairs.
Here’s an attempt to breakdown what each defenseman does best and who they might match up best with.
(Each player is listed with their best match as a partner, other options they could succeed with, and players to avoid. The match is to maximize that player’s skills, it is not necessarily to create the best pair. Other options are ranked in order from best option to worst. Players to avoid are listed in no particular order.)
Schmidt is the swiss-army knife of the Golden Knights defense. He really does it all and it allows for him to be partnered with pretty much anyone. As a mobile puck-mover, he can be paired with a stay-at-home player or he can be put with another puck-mover to create a dynamic pair. Schmidt is able to contribute offense, but he’s also one of the most reliable players the Golden Knights have in their own end. Schmidt has played on both sides, and played with Engelland and McNabb for the majority of last season. However, they have paired him with Theodore on multiple occasions, including in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. It’s never really gone well, but there’s been a willingness to try it. Best Match: McNabb Other Options: Schuldt, Engelland, Merrill, Theodore, Hague, Whitecloud, Coghlan, Bischoff, Holden Avoid: None
The defensive stallwart, McNabb almost has to play with a skater. That being said, McNabb has really been at his best with Schmidt as his partner. Late in the year last season, they put him with Theodore, and while Shea thrived it often led to McNabb being caught in vulnerable defensive positions which was highlighted by the OT goal that ended Vegas’ season. Throughout the two year history, the Golden Knights have really only used McNabb with Theodore, Schmidt, and Engelland and one of those pairs was a nightmare. McNabb has spent the entirety of his Golden Knights career playing on the left side. Best Match: Schmidt Other Options: Theodore, Schuldt, Coghlan, Whitecloud, Hague, Avoid: Engelland, Bischoff, Merrill, Holden
Last season, Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves fought four times and was voted the victor in each by the fans. Three regular season scraps and one postseason go-around with Evander Kane was a light schedule for Reaves, who normally averages seven fights per year.
Evander Kane vs Ryan Reaves from the San Jose Sharks at Vegas Golden Knights game on Apr 14, 2019 https://t.co/u4kdnF1ev0
“I don’t think we’re ever going to boomerang back. I think we’re going to see decline, after decline, after decline, to the point now that we have new historic lows across the board in hockey fighting.”- Greg Wyshynski, ESPN NHL Reporter
Player safety has been a big reason for the drop off but it’s also becoming difficult to carry fists in a salary cap world. Love him or hate him, Reaves is unique. He has stood the test of time and is preparing for his tenth NHL season.
He’s arguably the toughest guy in the league, but the fact he can play the game and contribute that’s what makes him valuable. That’s where the game is nowadays. There were a lot of players that were pushed out, he was not one of them. Rightfully so. He can contribute to the game and not just for what we’re known for doing. -Shawn Thornton, Former NHL Player
Thornton spoke with me in late February, after the Golden Knights hosted the Florida Panthers. Overall, the retired NHL heavyweight was glad to see the decline in fighting.
In my opinion, intimidation is a part of life. When you’re in an arena that’s two hundred by eighty-five with no out of bounds, it’s amplified. I think there will always be a space in hockey. Sometimes it’s a pressure cooker and a fight will be the thing that pops the top off… but there’s no more room in the league for a one-dimensional guy, and I’m actually very okay with that. -Thornton
Now that the wait is over and fan favorite Deryk Engelland signed his new contract to stay in Las Vegas, it’s time to discuss his future impact. First off, let’s note that Engelland will receive less money in 2019-2020 but will have a chance to make up for it.
Deryk Engelland has re-signed with the Golden Knights for the league minimum of $700,000 with performance bonuses which could reach as high as $1.5 millon.
At 37-years-old you’d assume his overall presence would begin to drop off. After all, his time on ice dwindled from 20:17 ATOI in 2017-18, to 19:53 ATOI in 2018-19. I’m being sarcastic, that’s not much of a difference. Same can be said for his penalty kill minutes, it’s virtually equal to VGK’s first season and I could argue he was as good if not better in 2018-19.
Just take a look at Engelland’s 2019 Postseason penalty killing performance.
Game 1: 4:26 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/5 San Jose Power Plays
Game 2: 9:19 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/8 San Jose Power Plays
Game 3: 4:16 PK Minutes (Team Leader), 1 Goal/3 Power Plays
Game 4: 4:31 PK Minutes, 0 Goals/4 San Jose Power Plays
Game 5: 3:15 PK Minutes (Game Leader), 1 Goal/3 San Jose Power Plays
Game 6: 2:45 PK Minutes, 0 Goals/2 San Jose Power Plays
Game 7: 7:56 PK Minutes (Game Leader), *4 Goals/9 San Jose Power Plays
Total: 36:28 PK Minutes, 5 Goals/34 Power Plays, 0.13 San Jose PPG when Engelland was on the ice.
*You all know why there’s an asterisk
So just on defensive special teams alone, Engelland’s return is a positive one. However, the issue could be on even-strength. How will the Golden Knights coaching staff deploy the elder statesmen this season? Is it possible Jon Merrill, Nick Holden(if still on the roster), or Rookie d-men see more time on 5v5 than in 2018-19. That direction would balance Engelland’s minutes under 18-19 minutes a game. Which could be more beneficial for the team.
A big part of my game is killing penalties-Deryk Engelland
Another element to Engelland’s 2019-2020 usage will be who he is paired up with. Over the past two seasons, it’s been a consistent dose of Engelland and Shea Theodore. I’d assume with the uncertainty of the younger defenseman, that pairing would remain the same to start training camp and the season. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way, and frankly I don’t think it will. With the possibility of a rookie in the lineup nightly, Vegas may want to break in the young blueliner with an experienced, reliable defenseman like Engelland. It worked for Theodore.
In a perfect world, Engelland would see less even-strength minutes and continue to be a rock on the penalty kill. Keep in mind the Golden Knights paid him less money to stay which could be a sign the organization sees Engelland playing a lesser role this season. Or it’s just another shrewd business move by the front office.
Either way, subtracting 5v5 minutes means fresher legs on the PK. It’s an easy, obvious approach to distribute minutes and get the most out of the 37-year-old in 2019-2020. It’s almost too obvious if a half-wit like me can figure it out. Clearly he’s valued and trusted on the ice by the coaching staff which would lead you to believe they expect the same #5 out there. And how can you fault them after two successful seasons with Vegas?
George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon have awoken from their summer slumber to complete to transactions and pave the way for more in the future.
First, the Golden Knights traded David Clarkson’s contract and a 4th Round pick in 2020 for goalie Garret Sparks.
To my knowledge, the benefit of this is twofold:
1) VGK gets slightly more wiggle room in-season against the cap 2) Performance bonuses can be pushed to 2020-21 which would allow them to potentially give more to Engelland and allow Glass a spot on the roster. https://t.co/GDyTADaZH9
The difference between the Leafs and Golden Knights in regards to Clarkson is that TOR was already going to use LTIR (because of Nathan Horton). By moving him, VGK now will not. There are a few minimal drawbacks to using it that VGK now avoids. Didn't matter for TOR.
The benefits for the Golden Knights are minimal as Vegas could have simply placed Clarkson on LTIR, but they do gain a bit of flexibility which they would not have had if they had kept Clarkson’s contract on the books.
The other move was re-signing Deryk Engelland to a one-year contract worth $700,000. The contract includes performance bonuses which could allow him to earn up to $1.5 million total.
(To our knowledge) Without moving Clarkson, those performance bonuses would have been counted against the Golden Knights salary cap whether Engelland reached them or not, but without Clarkson, and thus Vegas NOT using LTIR, they can be pushed to 2020-21 in the event he reaches them and the Golden Knights cannot afford them.
Next, how does this affect the elephant in the room?
As for how this effects Nikita Gusev, it can only help. VGK has created more cap flexibility by shedding Clarkson's LTIR contract and retained a roster player at the league minimum. Wouldn't say it helps much, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
Finally, Garret Sparks is an AHL level goalie who has been in the Toronto system since 2013. In 2017-18 he was named the best goalie in the AHL as the Toronto Marlies went on to win the Calder Cup. He recorded the best save percentage in the league that season as well at .936.
Last season, Sparks stayed with the NHL club throughout. He played 20 games and posted a 3.15 GAA and a .902 SV%.
Sparks is on a one-way one-year contract worth $750,000.
The Golden Knights weren’t able to repeat as Western Conference Champions (#NotAMajor), but they were able to successfully defend another title in year 2018-19.
For the second straight year, the Golden Knights sold the most jerseys in the NHL according to CMO Brian Killingsworth.
In Year 1, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the expansion team would top the list as literally every fan had to buy a new jersey. But to keep it up in Year 2 is quite the achievement.
The Golden Knights also topped the NHL in sales per cap (measured by fans/attendance) at in-arena team stores. And, Killingsworth confirmed during the 2018 playoff run people from over 110 countries bought Golden Knights apparel.
Marc-Andre Fleury finished atop the list of Golden Knights players for most jerseys sold and ranked 3rd behind Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
The top five Golden Knights jerseys sold were:
Killingsworth noted that Mark Stone made a strong push towards the top five in the few months following the trade deadline but didn’t quite crack the top five.
All in all, another year of dominance in the apparel market for the Golden Knights. It will be challenging to repeat as champs again in Years 3 and 4, and even tougher in Year 5 with the Seattle expansion franchise coming in, but if any city can do it, it’s Vegas.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Deryk Engelland isn’t ready to call it a career in the NHL. After playing 79 and 74 games (plus 27 playoff games) the last two years, the 37-year-old thinks he has at least one more year left in him.
My goal is to play at least another couple of years. As far as how many years we’ll just take it one at a time right now. -Deryk Engelland on The Press Box with Ed and Clay
Engelland spoke to Ed Graney and Clay Baker on The Press Box on ESPN Radio 1100 (listen to the whole interview here) this morning and made it abundantly clear that he not only doesn’t want to be done in the NHL, but he doesn’t want to be done in Vegas either.
Waking up at an older age isn’t always the best feeling, but you still love the game, loving playing it, love being around the guys and there’s no better place to play it than here Vegas so hopefully that all works out.
I did what I can do this season, and now it’s just up to them. I’ll just sit back, see what we hear from them and go from there. -Engelland on The Press Box with Ed and Clay
It’s up to the Golden Knights to decide if they want to keep Engelland moving forward. However, every indication they’ve ever given points to the two parties reuniting for at least 2019-20 season.
Engelland remains one of the best penalty killers on the team, one of the two right-handed defensemen on the roster (Colin Miller being the other), and a clear leader both on and off the ice. Plus, the head coach has used him every time he’s been healthy both years.
If it were to be listed on the William Hill Mobile Sports App, Deryk Engelland to be a Golden Knight in 2019-20 would be a massive favorite.