Contract Status: UFA this summer.
|Corsi For %||CF% Rel||Quality of Comp. TOI%||Zone Start||PDO|
|43.8% (9)||-5.2% (8)||27.9% (9)||45.6% (8)||99.4 (5)|
(Numbers in parentheses indicate descending rank among Pens' regular nine defensemen).
Most Frequent Defense Partner
|Goals For %||Corsi For %||Total 5v5 ice time|
Engelland didn't play a lot this year, and when he did play, part of it was spent playing as a forward. So we don't really have a big sample of him playing as a defenseman, especially one where he got to see regular time with a set partner. But what we do see is that the coaches generally paired him with like-minded defensemen: guys who don't skate particularly well and who are tasked with starting in the defensive zone more often than not. Niskanen, of course, skates fine, but it goes to show you lucky he was this year given that he and Engelland were bad at puck possession but somehow had a GF% approaching 65%.
The bigger story for me, though, is that Engelland just couldn't possess the puck this year. Regardless of who he was paired with, they struggled to keep the puck anywhere near the opposing team's goalie. And looking at his GF% with Scuderi is even more scary--that pairing was a certifiable tire fire this year. I want to credit Engelland's numbers a bit due to his zone start, but he saw incredibly weak competition. I'm inclined to think those should cancel out and that we take Engelland's CF% at face value. Which is to say, he wasn't that good.
The End of the Line?
Engelland is a cheap player who does a few things moderately well. Even if you hate him, you can't get too upset because he was generally kept out of the lineup when the games mattered most and the team hasn't invested a substantial portion of their salary cap in him. And when he and Despres got significant playing time after the Olympics, the difference between them wasn't that big.
That being said, Engelland is 32, not getting any younger, and certainly not getting any better. He can be a serviceable 7th D-man and doesn't mind fighting, though the latter trait is becoming increasingly less useful in today's NHL. The real issue with Engelland being in the lineup in the future is that he'd further clog the pipeline of all of the talented young defensemen we have in the minors. Guys like Harrington, Pouliot, Despres, and Dumoulin are all younger than Engelland and have significantly higher ceilings. They'll also cost roughly the same amount. Given that calculus, I don't think it makes much sense for Pittsburgh to retain him.
And they likely won't, especially since Edmonton has already expressed interest in him. I'd be happy to see him move on, and I think both parties realize it's time. It's not a big loss, and it's not like he kept us from achieving our true potential. All in all, he generally did what he was asked to do.
GIF of the Year
I will miss watching these hits.
With a guy of Engelland's caliber, the expectations were never that high. And when the bar is set low, you have to really go out of your way to underwhelm. This season, I think most came into it expecting what they always did out of Engelland: no big mistakes, lay a few hits, and pick a fight here or there. The switch to forward was a pleasant surprise that few predicted at the start of the season, but it didn't change any of the expectations surrounding the role Engelland would play. He'd get minimal minutes during any game, and the goal was simply to hold the fort until the big guns could get back out there again. Again, the bar isn't too high here folks.
Like the preseason expectations, I think the end-of-season verdict for Engelland is clear and unsurprising. He generally did the simple things that we expect him to do and didn't really cost the team a whole lot when he was out there. Perhaps his worst game came late in the season against Carolina, but he was benched in the following game and didn't see much ice time as the season wore down. Nevertheless, that doesn't dwarf the fact that the Penguins paid Engelland league minimum and got league minimum-type play. As for the playoffs, we can't opine on Engelland's play because he didn't dress for a single game.
Based on the interest that Edmonton has shown and the Penguins' minor league pipeline of defensemen that seems to grow every year, Engelland likely won't be back. As I said above, it's one of those instances where it's in the best interest of both parties to probably go their separate ways. Engo could likely get more money and more playing time on a different team, and the Penguins really don't have any use for him as their seventh defenseman anymore. Robert Bortuzzo can play that role going forward and in fact did reasonably well this year.
With that being said, this is one of those times where you'd give Engo a big hug, thank him for his service, and wish him the best with his new team. He seems like the kind of guy where nothing more would need to be said.