Top 10 prospects - #7 Adam Engstrom

Engstrom spent his last two seasons mixing it up in the top league in Sweden. And he appears poised to make a big splash with the Rocket in 2024-25.
Canada v Sweden: Group A - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada v Sweden: Group A - 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens added yet another promising young defenseman to the fold at the end of the 2023-24 season.

Kent Hughes signed Adam Engstrom to a three-year entry-level contract, which brings the young Swede to North America. Engstrom is looking to translate his smart, smooth skating style from European ice to the smaller ice in Laval. It was a tough year offensively for Engstrom in Rogle, but the reason for that is that he put an onus on improving his defensive game.

It's critical for Engstrom to be positionally aware - ensuring his gap control is on point and physically he is asserting himself against stiffer competition in the American Hockey League. While his defensive game underwent some growth, he still needs to work on his decision-making during the breakout. Sometimes he forces plays, trying to make pretty plays rather than the high percentage plays.

He won't come in and dazzle with shutdown plays on defence, but his mobility and offensive talents could see him establish a top-four role right from the outset. Coaching will correct his defensive lapses and that is precisely why it was the right time for him to join the Rocket. Because the Habs are well stocked on left defence and focused on development, Engstrom will have time to develop and the growing pains won't be frowned upon.

On the flip side of the coin, when Engstrom does reach the NHL, he will have some stiff competition, though I believe he will give Hughes some options. Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble become relatively expendable, with Kaiden Guhle and presumably Lane Hutson occupying two spots in the top four. I think that Engstrom has the potential to eventually play in the Canadiens' top four, which is a story for another day.

Aside from the Habs' top three defence prospects, there isn't a defender, in my eyes that is ahead of Engstrom. That says a lot, considering he is only 20 years old and has a ton of room to grow ahead of him. With the young group of defenders set to play between Montreal and Laval in 2023-24, the future will be on full display.