Slafkovsky, Mesar, Beck and Hutson may be getting the hype but there’s another 2022 Montreal draft pick making noise in Sweden, and someone to keep an eye on at the upcoming world junior tournament.
I took a look at three recent games from Adam Engstrom representing Finland U20s, Rogle Jr. and Rogle HC. He has had an eventful season, playing games in U-20 tournaments, junior, Champions League and the SHL, scoring eight goals and 19 points in 32 games.
Sweden 6 Finland 1 (U-20 Tournament)
First up was a game versus Finland juniors on Nov. 13 in which Sweden’s U-20 team breezed to a 6-1 victory. Engstrom played 17 minutes, scored a goal and an eye-opening CORSI rating of 95 percent.
Rogle 8 Oskarshamn 2 (Swedish Junior)
This was Engstrom’s last game with Rogle’s U20 club on Nov. 18. Engstrom (#56 in green) had a goal and three assists in 21:53 of ice time, a 71 percent CORSI rating and was +4.
The day after he turned 19 he put in this Herculean [performance. Now you know why he’s back up with the big team – that was as dominant a performance as I’ve seen in Swedish junior this season from a defenceman. He had four points, and it could easily have been six or seven. He was inconsistent in junior last season but right now he is brimming with confidence at the junior level. He’s played 19 SHL games and just seven in junior, where he’s accumulated 13 points and sits second overall in points per game.
Rogle 3 Malmo 2 (SHL)
Engstrom (#56 in white) played 18:37 on the right side of the top pairing with William Willander in this game, and notched his third SHL goal. That’s mighty impressive for a teenager, and it bodes well for him being a significant part of Sweden’s WJC team,
You cannot watch those clips and not be excited about Engstrom’s potential. A club that lacks defencemen who can contribute offensively on the power play has two good ones coming in Lane Hutson and Engstrom. He walks the line deftly, and can avoid checkers with clever spins and dekes in tight spaces thanks to his mobility. He makes smart, safe passes thanks to his vision, agility and soft hands. He also has a decent shot and likes to move up into the slot looking for scoring opportunities.
When you combine his physical skills with his height and reach, there is plenty of potential for him to develop into a solid, two-way NHL defenceman. At 185 pounds, he will likely need to add another 15-20 pounds of muscle before he’s ready to play pro in North America, so don’t expect him to make the jump for a couple more years.
With the added strength will hopefully come more physical play. Engstrom is by no means soft – he just doesn’t get involved physically on a consistent basis versus men in the SHL mainly because he lacks strength. He defends well one-on-one because of his mobility and sound positioning, and he’s willing to get involved in front of his net. He has some jam in his game, and that will become more evident when he has added weight and can actually move defenders from in front of the net.
If all of the pieces come together, Engstrom has NHL second-pairing and second power-play potential. Where it becomes problematic for Engstrom is that there are about a half dozen other young left defencemen either already in the NHL or in Montreal’s system who also fit that description. He has a long road ahead of him to crack Montreal’s roster but the raw package is there to develop into an impactful NHL defenceman, be it in Montreal or elsewhere.