In each and every generation, there is only one ‘Sidney Crosby’ or ‘Nathan MacKinnon’ — players whose talent transcend the game and have the ability to do anything almost effortlessly. That’s not to say they don’t work for what they have, but it comes easier to them than most.
Most players have to fight their way into the league and do whatever it takes. For example, Deryk Engelland literally had to fight his way into the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After playing more than 700 games in the WHL, AHL, and ECHL level, Engelland tallied 1,360 penalty minutes in his journey to the NHL.
Engelland finally made his NHL debut with the Penguins during the 2009-10 season, playing in nine games, and quickly made a name for himself, getting in three dustups.
No stranger to fisticups, Engelland has fought 163-times according to Hockeyfights.com, and that doesn’t include any fights he had in the East Coast Hockey League, which wasn’t listed on the site.
Earning his spot on the team fighting, last year was a revolution for Engelland, transforming from fighting defenseman and expanding his game to a solid third pairing defender. Now with the emergence of Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta, it has forced Engelland deep on the bench, and some are wondering how long he will remain with the team.
But rolling the dice and knowing that what he could bring to the lineup, head coach Dan Bylsma decided to play Engelland at forward on the fourth line. Now having played in more games at forward this year than he has at defense, Engelland is starting to get comfortable at the position and it seems like he could be a valuable player moving forward.
Last night he scored the first goal of the season on a play that would make a natural forward smile, crashing the net and tipping the puck in.
Having again to fight for a place on an NHL roster, Engelland is no stranger in doing so. While the others he will be competing with for with have the experience he doesn’t, judging by his highlight reel, he isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
Anthony Murphy is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. You can follow me on Twitter, @AMurphyTFC.