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Golden Knights sign Deryk Engelland to one-year contract, acquire Garret Sparks for David Clarkson’s contract

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A couple significant moves.

Calgary Flames v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Veteran defenseman Deryk Engelland will return to the Vegas Golden Knights for their 2019-20 campaign. Engelland agreed to a contract worth $700,000 (not including incentives that could bring the total up to $1.5 million) to remain in Vegas for one more year, the Golden Knights announced Tuesday. Next season will be Engelland’s 11th in the NHL.

The Golden Knights’ decision to re-sign Engelland makes sense, considering the team’s lack of depth on the blue line. At the same time, though, it’s fair to wonder if Engelland is capable of making much of an on-ice impact at this stage. Out of all Golden Knights defensemen in 2018-19 (save for Jimmy Schuldt, who played just 21 minutes this past season), Engelland ranked dead last — and second-to-last on the team — with a -5.57 Corsi Relative to his teammates at 5-on-5. In fact, nearly all of the Knights’ blueliners drove play at a higher rate when they weren’t on the ice with Engelland.

Deryk Engelland with teammates at 5-on-5

Player CF% With Engelland CF% Without Engelland
Player CF% With Engelland CF% Without Engelland
Schmidt 46.20% 52.94%
Theodore 53.71% 58.94%
McNabb 26.83% 53.80%
Miller 40.00% 55.48%
Merrill 34.04% 58.97%
Holden 50.89% 55.75%

Unflattering advanced metrics aside, Engelland does fill a key role as one of the respected leaders in the Vegas dressing room. And as a Vegas resident for over 15 years, he’s been a fan favorite from the very moment he was selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft.

Still, it’s fair to be concerned about Engelland’s play. Engelland tallied just 12 points in 74 games this past season despite playing with two of the Knights’ best scoring defenders in Shea Theodore and Nate Schmidt. Conversely, though, Engelland is also just over a year removed from the best statistical season of his career (five goals and 23 points in 79 games in 2017-18). Perhaps he’s due for a bounce-back performance in 2019-20. But at 37 years old, that doesn’t seem realistic.

For the sake of both Engelland and the Golden Knights, let’s hope he does rebound — especially if he continues to play 20 minutes a night like he did in 2018-19.

Of course, signing Engelland wasn’t the only move the Knights announced Tuesday. The team also acquired goaltender Garret Sparks from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for David Clarkson’s contract and a fourth-round selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. This now officially puts Vegas under then NHL’s $81.5 million salary cap with $80,474,999 on the books.

This begs the question — does this move impact the Nikita Gusev situation at all? Yes, but not significantly. Garret Sparks is only due to make $750,000 this coming season, which Vegas can easily handle. Still, the Knights only have $1,025,001 in cap space, per CapFriendly, meaning they’ll likely need to make at least another move in order to sign Gusev to the contract he and his camp desire, which could be in the ballpark of $4 million annually. Cody Eakin, Nick Holden and Ryan Reaves are all names to watch as Vegas looks to solve the Gusev dilemma.