PHILADELPHIA — Nobody thinks of Deryk Engelland as another Paul Coffey, even when coach Gerard Gallant sometimes insinuates that Engelland and his fellow Golden Knights defensemen think they are the Hall of Famer.
But with two goals on the team’s five-game road trip, Engelland is suddenly second among the defense corps with five goals. Colin Miller leads the team’s defensemen with eight.
“I think it has to do with time on ice,” Engelland said of his increased offensive production, which has seen him average 20:13 time-on-ice. “You’re on the ice more, averaging more minutes, you chip in a little more. That’s my theory.”
Engelland, 35, is already enjoying his best offensive season with 22 points in 65 games (five goals, 17 assists).
His previous NHL best came in 2011-12 when he had 17 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The most points Engelland has had at any level was 21 when he was with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers in 2004-05 (five goals and 16 assists in 72 games).
“I think our forwards are doing a great job going to the net and putting things in,” Engelland said. “Everyone likes to chip in offensively when they can so it’s an extra bonus for me.”
Defenseman Zach Whitecloud skated with the Knights for the first time Sunday and the college free agent from Bemidji State realized early things are done a little quicker at the NHL level.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said of the 35-minute optional workout the Knights held at Wells Fargo Arena. “Obviously, it’s a faster game at this level. “But the guys are helping me out and I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can and help the team wherever they need me.”
Gallant said there’s no need to rush Whitecloud.
“We don’t have any plan other than to take it day by day,” Gallant said. “He’s a talented kid who we think can help us at some point. When that point is, I don’t know.”
It’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s turn to come back to the place where he played prior to being taken by the Knights in the expansion draft. Bellemare played three years with the Philadelphia Flyers.
“These guys took a chance on me so I’ll always be grateful to the Flyers,” Bellemare said. “I have good memories from here. Sometimes I’d hit traffic going to practice in the morning because I lived in (Philadelphia) and we practiced in (New) Jersey.
“But it was a nice facility, though I’m probably spoiled being in Vegas and living three-and-a-half minutes from the (practice) rink.”