Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland announced his retirement from the NHL on Tuesday afternoon, ending a fascinating 11-year career that saw him go from scrappy underdog defenseman to the face of the most successful expansion team in league history.
“Deryk Engelland epitomizes what it means to be a Golden Knight. A no-ego, selfless, hardworking player who has an unwavering commitment to protecting those who are unable to protect themselves,” said Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley in a team statement.
“Since he joined our organization in 2017, Deryk’s service to our community has been exemplary. On behalf of the entire Vegas Golden Knights organization, we would like to congratulate Deryk on an outstanding career. He has made an indelible mark on our city and we are excited for this next chapter, as he stays with the Golden Knights family and continues the outstanding work he has done in our community.”
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Originally a sixth-round draft pick by the New Jersey Devils in 2000, Engelland spent nearly a decade playing in the minor leagues before making his NHL debut during the 2009-10 season at the age of 27 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
While he was mostly a role player for the Penguins and then Calgary Flames (after signing a shocking contract with them in free agency), it was his three years with the Golden Knights where he made his biggest impact. He showed up in Vegas and completely reinvented himself into a 20-minute per night, top-four defenseman that played a significant role on the Golden Knights’ stunning Stanley Cup Final run.
But it was not just his impact on the ice that made him such a key part of the organization. Engelland arrived in Vegas already having a relationship with the city. More than a decade before his Golden Knights debut, Engelland started his pro career with the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers and called the city home. Before the team’s first home game he delivered an emotional speech following the Las Vegas shooting, and then scored a goal early in the first period of that game. He also created the Engelland’s Vegas Born Heroes Foundation.
He finishes his career with 670 games played, 30 goals, and 127 total points. They are not numbers that jump off the page, but it is still a rock solid career for a player that did not make his debut until his late 20s and made a huge impact on his team and community.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.