Pittsburgh Penguins: Recapping Evgeni Malkin’s Explosive 2019-2020 Season
|Photo Credit: Joe Sargent/Getty Images|
As we continue our series, giving a player recap for the 2019-2020 season, which also includes an outlook for the upcoming year. Today we take a look at Pittsburgh Penguins' forward Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin has been a fascinating player to watch from the moment he debuted in the NHL over a decade ago.
He had the skillset to be the face of the franchise, but thrived playing behind Sidney Crosby and at times, it seems because of that many forget just how good Malkin is and has been.
When called upon he has been every bit the generational talent that they expected when Pittsburgh took him second overall in 2004. This season, Malkin - like almost every other Penguin - had to fight through an injury plagued season.
The Russian-born pivot only played in 55 of the team's 69 games during the regular season, recording 74 points (25 G, 49 A).
Malkin: By The Numbers
Malkin led the Penguins in 5v5 goals (tied with Bryan Rust), assists, and points, despite playing in just the 55 games. He actually led the Penguins in 5v5 assists by a very wide margin, posting 30 compared to Crosby's second place 18.
Despite the limited amount of time-on-ice, Malkin still finished in the top-10 in points at 5v5. In fact, among all the players in top-20 in 5v5 scoring, Malkin finished with the fewest TOI out of them all. In fact, he was the only player in the top-20 who didn't play at least 900 minutes at 5v5.
*Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, based on play at 5v5. All rankings based off of all forwards who played at least 250 minutes at 5v5 during the 2019-2020 season.
Seems that despite being on the wrong side of 30 hasn’t shown down Malkin while he was on the ice. Nobody had a higher scoring rate than Malkin this season, who recorded nearly three-and-a-half points every 60-minutes played.
The only number from his individual production that didn’t jump off the paper was his giveaways. Actually, you could make a case that it did jump out, but only for the wrong reasons. Malkin was among the worse in the league in giving the puck away, but on the other side of things, he was the best at taking back possession.
Not too much to say here outside more numbers to help recognize just how dominate Malkin was when he was on the ice.
Malkin was one of seven players to post a 4.00-or higher GF/60 in the league last year among all forwards with at least 250 minutes at 5v5. While posting eye popping numbers offensively, he still managed to posted a respectable xGA/60 mark.
You can make a case that Malkin may be heading into the upcoming season with one of the better set of wingers he’s had in his time with the Penguins.
Rust led the team in goals, recording nearly 30 goals. Jason Zucker, who was acquired in a trade in the middle of the season, has multiple 20-goal seasons to his credit. With the current construction of the roster, they are the most likely to find themselves flanking Malkin.
Malkin, now 34-years old, will enter the upcoming season within reach of a few career milestones. He currently sits 40 assists away from 700 in his career. During his career, he has reached at least 40 assists nine times before, making it likely he hits that milestone this year.
He is also just 24-points from reaching 1,100 in his career. This one seems like a foregone conclusion to reach, granted there is a season for him to participate in.
Another interesting thing to look out for is his contract status. He has just two more seasons left on his current deal. Now there aren’t many scenarios in which Malkin ends up sporting a different sweater, but with the Penguins’ ever ending cap situation, and the now uncertainty in the potential growth of the salary cap, it will be an interesting to keep an eye on.
What did you think of Malkin’s season? What are your expectations for him for the upcoming season? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site at the link at the top of the article and follow me on Twitter at both @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy.