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2019-20 Season in Review: Evgeni Malkin

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Did the big Russian have anything left in the tank after a so-called subpar season in 2018-19?

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Vitals

Player: Evgeni Malkin

Born: July 31, 1986 (34-years old)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 195 lbs.

Birthplace: Magnitogorsk, Russia

Shoots: Left

Draft: 2nd overall, 2004, Pittsburgh Penguins

2019-20 Statistics: 25 goals, 49 assists, 74 points in 55 games played

Contract Status: Has a cap hit of $9.5M through the 2021-22 season with a no-movement clause

Looking Back

Evgeni Malkin’s 2018-19 season is well-noted to this point. He, the media, the fans, everyone believed Evgeni Malkin was finally on the down swing of his career (even though he still totaled 72 points in 68 games, but whatever).

45 percent of Pensburgh readers believed Malkin’s season was largely below average, with the center earning a majority “C” grade in his 2018-19 season review.

From training camp onward, Malkin vowed to be better, but actions speak louder than words. How would he fare on the ice? Would the Magnitogorsk Monster dominate once again?

Regular Season History & 2019-20 Season

—Well, 74 points in a coronavirus-shortened 55-game season is pretty damn Malkin-esque.

It is also worth noting here that Malkin took over top-line duties for the injured Sidney Crosby when the captain was recovering from his sports hernia surgery earlier in the season. When one of the two stars is out of the lineup, I’ve always gotten the vibe that the other one loves the added pressure of needing to step up and be “the guy” the team rallies around.

Malkin carried a 1.34 PPG average and, had he played a full 82-game season, Geno would have been on a 110-point pace. How’s that for a rebound?

Advanced Stats History & 2019-20 Season

—Like he has for the majority of his career, a skilled player like Malkin is going to dominate possession. But the difference in his possession metrics from last season to this year is also rather massive.

A 54.4 and 56.1 CF% and FF% respectively tells me that the big Russian bear was on a mission. The team’s on-ice shooting percentage also increased by three points between this year and last, which was a plus.

Playoffs

In the four-game series against the Canadiens, Malkin registered a lone assist and was a -3. Now, we know that Malkin was at least somewhat hampered by an injury throughout the season, an injury which required surgery after the playoff loss. Malkin had surgery on his left elbow on August 17. But the forward is expected to be ready to go by the end of this month.

Monthly Split

via yahoo!

—A freak injury early in game two of the season on October 5th was Malkin’s only real brush with injury, when he missed four weeks with a leg injury after catching a rut on the ice.

—When he returned from that injury on November 2nd, Malkin’s hot November coincided with the aforementioned sports hernia surgery Crosby had. Taking over on line one, 71 was seemingly untouchable during this run. Geno was held off the scoreboard in his first game back, but recorded at least one point in 20 of the next 23 games.

Still, even after Malkin returned to his home on the second line, he and Bryan Rust continued to be a thorn in the side of opposing defenses and goalies.

The 11 points in five games before the stoppage in March is an eyebrow-raising stat line.

Charts

Data courtesy of HockeyViz.

—Malkin was tied at the hip to Bryan Rust practically all season, and it was a career season for Rust with 57 points in 55 games himself.

A simple equation but offensive zone + Evgeni Malkin = good things.

While the offense was still respectable without Malkin, the expected goals/60 here isn’t too shabby, Malkin’s skill and presence alone still makes him a lethal threat in front of the net.

And of course, as long as Malkin and Crosby are on the same team, the power-play is going to continue to get chances to convert. And while the Pens’ power play was down, it wasn’t really on Geno. He recorded 24 PPP (7G+17A) in 55 games this season, which is about on pace with about all his other seasons. In 2018-19, for instance, Malkin had 26 PPP (9G+17A) in 68 games.

Some of Malkin’s 2018-19 woes can be attributed to playing with Jack Johnson on the second and third defense pairings. Crosby and his line were going to be deployed with Letang-Dumoulin leaving Malkin and company to be dragged down by Johnson’s (and other defensemen’s) shortcomings.

And this chart can detail, although in a limited sample size, how much of an impact teammates can have on other players’ performances.

Video

A few personal favorites of mine in this highlight package are the insane pass to Rust against the Bruins, and for my money, that spectacular goal against the Capitals will go on Malkin’s career highlight reel.

He may be a step slower now due to age, but his on-ice vision remains at an elite level.

Bottom Line

While maybe not the most normal year, in terms of “rebounding,” Malkin delivered, plain and simple. He stepped up when called upon and helped keep the Penguins afloat. Otherwise, they may have had a drastically different season.

Ideal 2020-21

Give me more of the same. Ok, at 34, maybe a 110-point season is a bit of a reach, but for all the flak he gets (and he does make some boneheaded decisions from time to time), Malkin is still a top-10 player in this league, and when he is on his game, he’s nearly unstoppable.

I see no reason why Malkin cannot remain a 1+ point-per-game player, especially playing alongside Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust/maybe Kasperi Kapanen.

Question to Ponder

Health has always been a concern surrounding Malkin’s game. He hasn’t played a full 82-game season since 2008-09 if you can believe it. Even during this season, Geno missed almost all of October due to a lower-body injury. At this point, you have to expect to play a stretch of games where Malkin won’t suit up, as harsh as that sounds.

Another question to keep in mind is: who will Malkin be playing with once next season begins? Jason Zucker is an almost certain lock to be Malkin’s left winger. But on the right side, will Bryan Rust reclaim his spot? Was last season an anomaly in Rust’s career? Will Kasperi Kapanen earn his spot alongside Malkin instead of Crosby? Only time will tell.

Grade

Poll

Grade Evgeni Malkin’s 2019-20 season

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    A
    (234 votes)
  • 31%
    A-
    (122 votes)
  • 6%
    B
    (24 votes)
  • 1%
    B-
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (1 vote)
390 votes total Vote Now