Adam Engström has become one of the main defencemen for Sweden in the Wold Junior Championships, and both Rögle’s coach and GM gave Eyes on the Prize exclusive interviews in regards to Adam Engström’s development, and what Montreal Canadiens fans should look for when they tune in a Sweden game.
Over the four-five months with us [Adam] has developed over the season, well over the past four or five months with us. He’s developed a lot in both sides of the game,” says Cam Abbott. “I think offensively he’s had a creativity and an IQ. That’s always been there, and he’s really refined it to find a positive impact offensively with us in the SHL. But think more than that, he’s understood the responsibilities that playing in this league demands defensively and he’s really upped his game so that we can be used in all situations with us.”
This brings forward the defensive development that Engström has had since arriving in Rögle, something that has impressed quite a few experts in Sweden, and has meant a move to the first pairing along with William Wallinder [a Detroit prospect].
Abbott continues his short evaluation of Engström describing the defensive side with a few chosen words. “He’s hardened up how he defends. He’s been doing a good job to find a balance on the risk/reward side that this league demands as well. Overall, I think his trajectory is right where it needs to be.”
“He’s having fun, he’s well liked by his teammates and he’s smiling all the time.” Abbott looks towards the future as he continues, “You know, I think Montreal can look forward to an exciting young player that has the potential to to rise to be a very solid NHLer in my opinion.”
Engström signed a new contract halfway through the the fall, was that an incentive to show that you, along with time on ice and playing first line minutes with Wallinder that he has developed maybe faster than you expected?
“I would not say ‘faster than I expected’, but maybe for those that haven’t been with him on a daily basis [it was unexpected]. I think his first contract, he’s earned every bit of that and he continues to earn all the minutes he’s getting. But, you know, we’re in the business of winning hockey games. I think it’s understanding, especially [for] these young guys that first and foremost, they need to help this team win and nothing goes ahead of that. Which Adam has done a great job of adjusting his game accordingly.”
How far can Engström go? While Coach Abbott sees a future NHLer as an outcome he is also careful in drawing a too big of a comparison, putting a lot on Adam Engström’s shoulders. However Cam Abbott is still very positive when it comes to Engström’s potential.
“The sky’s the limit for him in my opinion. If he’s ready to do the work that he is every day, haven’t had too many guys through the last five years that have been more of a rink rat. You know, I think it’s paying off for him, There’s a few guys in that category and some playing in the NHL now, and some hopefully on their way. He just loves it. He loves doing the work, he loves being at the rink. It’s not a, in any way a chore for him, he brings that positivity and energy to what he does and it’s infectious for the players and it’s just nice to work with those types of guys.”
Cam Abbott’s twin brother, Chris Abbott, is the GM for Rögle and he wanted to give his opinion on Engström as well:
Yeah, I think Adam’s done a tremendous job coming in. We saw a guy that could step in from our junior team and take big steps and he’s taking his opportunity. [He] has done an awesome job; playing smart when he’s, when he’s up with our pro team. He’s really established himself as a solid SHL d-man and just continues to develop. I see him as one of, if not the best, 03 defenseman in Sweden right now.
[Editor’s note, some of the players born in 2003 are not playing in Sweden at the moment].
What should Montreal Canadiens fans look at while watching the World Juniors, be it in the stands or on the TV? What do you think they should look at, things that they might not see when they just watch normal hockey.
“You know what I love the most actually when he scored the other night and he didn’t know if Rosén touched the puck or not. He’s the type of guy that says, you, you know, you to Rosén, you take the credit and, and gives him a pat, and had him lead the goal line. He’s that type of guy. He’s a team first guy, a lot of fun. He’s super humble. Doesn’t ask for anything and it’s just the right approach. He has been awesome for us.”
One thing that has stood out watching Engström on TV has been his edge work and lateral skating, what does Chris Abbott think about that? “I think his edges are pretty solid to be honest with you. He’s got a lot of dynamic qualities in skating. I think his skating and his mobility are probably [some] of his best attributes. But yeah I mean obviously there’s things that he needs to work on, and he’s going to, and he has a good attitude about it.”
Both interviews have been edited for clarity.