Toronto Maple Leafs – Tom Nilsson (D)
Sep 24, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Daniel Winnik (26) speaks with defensemen Morgan Rielly (44) and Tom Nilsson (63) during a break in action in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
21 years old – 6’0″ – 185 pounds
Drafted: Round 4, 100th overall, 2011
Tom Nilsson is a bone-rattling defensive defenceman. He’s got a big shot and is a solid outlet passer, but has low offensive upside. He has six points in 35 games for the Marlies, which works out to 13 over a full season.
Like Loov, this is his rookie year in the AHL, having previously played in Sweden. While he’s got some upside he’s not the puck mover or skater that Loov is and is smaller, though he uses his size well.
He suffers from being in a glut of defensive defenceman at the Marlies level. Along with Nilsson, Granberg and Holzer, the Marlies also have Andrew MacWilliam, and to a lesser extent Kevin Marshall and Brendan Mikkelson eating into ice time and opportunity for a non-scoring defender.
Nilsson is still very young and will have plenty of opportunity on a young growing blue line for the Marlies, particularly if Holzer doesn’t get resigned (he’s a UFA) and Percy ends up with the Leafs next year. The key to his development is being a smart defensive defender and limiting shots and opportunities on net.
He shouldn’t try to be an offensive force, as he’s already behind every Leaf, Percy and Loov in that regard. However, to try to leapfrog someone like Granberg, he’s got to be an opposing force that simply swallows players up in his own zone.
PIERRE ENGVALL (LW/RW)
18 years old – 6’3″ – 190 pounds
Drafted: Round 7, 188th overall, 2014
Pierre Engvall doesn’t have a very impressive resume at this point. He’s currently on loan to Oskarhamn of Allsvenskan, which is the second-tier league in Sweden (think AHL to the NHL). In 10 games this season, Engvall has zero points, which isn’t good.
That being said, it’s worth noting that it is a men’s league, and Engvall is still a teenager. For a little perspective, as a 17-year old last year, Nylander had 19 points in 17 games for Sodertalje but only 8 points in 18 games for Rogle, both in Allsvenskan.
When Nylander moved a tier up in the Swedish Elite League, he had seven points in 22 games. So if he is a top-tier talent who could score in the second-tier league but struggled against men, it’s not a great sign that a year older, and a lot bigger than Nylander, Engvall is struggling.
Engvall didn’t make it onto the Swedish World Juniors team, although he did play three games for them internationally, scoring a goal). The good news is that for Frolunda Junior 20 team, he has 23 points in 22 games. His scouting report is that of a good skating, big forward with offensive upside.
Engvall isn’t going to make any impact on the Leafs anytime soon, and maybe never become a prospect of significance. He’s a “swing for the fences and see what you get” kind of pick, not unlike Johnson was the year before.
Comparing the two isn’t easy, as Johnson won the SHL rookie of the year after being drafted, which rocketed him up the draft chart. Even if you look at Johnson in the year leading into his draft, he had 54 points in 42 games for the Frolunda Junior 20 team and played seven games in the Swedish Elite League, where he had one goal.
Johnson basically bypassed Allsvenskan and fit in right away, while Engvall is struggling a tier down. He’s a wait and see kind of prospect who is unsigned, but who the Leafs own the rights to and won’t have to make a decision on for quite some time, by which point in time they’ll have more information.