Player: Evgeni Malkin
Born: July 31, 1986 (Age 35 season)
Height: 6’ 3”
Weight: 195 pounds
Hometown: Magnitogorsk, Russia (formerly Soviet Union)
2021-22 Statistics: 41 games played —20 goals, 22 assists, 42 points, 24 penalty minutes
Contract Status: Unless Malkin and the Penguins can come to an agreement on a new contract before July 13th, Malkin is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Fun facts: For a someone who only played half the season Malkin came through incredibly clutch for the Penguins. Five of his 20 goals this season turned out to be game winners.
History: In 2018-19, Malkin was saddled with a majority B or C grade. COVID arrived in 2019-20 but not in time to slow down Malkin who impressed fans and was given an A marking. It was back down to B/C territory in 2020-21 for Malkin.
Malkin hovered right around a point per game in the seven game opening round series against the New York Rangers. He scored three goals and added three assists for six total points in the series which the Penguins lost. While those numbers may not jump off the page for a player of Malkin’s caliber, they are still a solid showing and right around his season averages. His biggest moment of the playoffs game in Game 1 when he directed in the game winning goal in the third overtime to give the Penguins the victory.
Story of the Season
It was a waiting game for Malkin to start the season as he continued recovery from offseason knee surgery that sidelined him until January. Malkin made up for lost time right away in his season debut against the Anaheim Ducks, scoring twice and adding an assist helping lead the Penguins to a victory.
That was one of only three multi-goal games for Malkin on the season but he remained consistent on the score sheet as the season went along. When the calendar hit March and the playoff charge heated up, Malkin was at his best, totaling 14 points in 13 games played which included eight goals. Three of those goals came in a hat trick performance against the Detroit Red Wings in an 11-2 drubbing.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 17 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes.
Corsi For%: 54.3% (5th)
Goals For%: 44.2% (16th)
xGF%: 54.2% (8th)
Scoring Chance %: 54.4% (9th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 55.8% (7th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 7.5% (11th)
On-ice save%: 89.5% (16th)
Goals/60: 1.1 (2nd)
Assist/60: 0.86 (13th)
Points/60: 1.95 (8th)
It was a smaller sample size than other forwards on the Penguins roster, but overall Malkin put together a solid analytical season. He doesn’t always get paired with elite scorers like Crosby does, but Malkin’s still talented enough to make an exceptionally positive impact on the ice even if he has fallen from his peak level from years past.
Malkin’s market value is gauged at $10 million which is just a hair higher than what he was making on his deal. A full season of hockey probably sees Malkin hit the 30-goal mark for the seventh time in his career but 20 is nothing to bat an eye at considering his situation back when the season began.
At 36 years old, Malkin can still bring it on the ice if not at the same level as his prime. That’s to be expected with age but it’s clear Malkin can still play. There were perhaps some worries about what he could do coming off major knee surgery in the offseason, but Malkin put those worries away with another stellar season.
Offensively still a monster to deal with for opposing defenses but it’s clear the defense take a back seat. Not necessarily a huge drawback when Malkin is posting good numbers in the offensive end. Also note that his finishing improved markedly from last season and returned near to where it was during the COVID shortened campaign in 2020.
Malkin: "We know we can win every game if we play right. We play smart. We play hard. I think we deserved to win tonight." pic.twitter.com/BMvu0dxCKy— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 4, 2022
With this goal, Evgeni Malkin surpassed Jaromir Jagr for third place on the Penguins' all-time playoff goals list with 66! pic.twitter.com/x9edq9YvD0— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 10, 2022
PURE DETERMINATION FROM EVGENI MALKIN!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 1, 2022
With this overtime tally, Malkin ties Jagr for the most game-winning goals in Penguins history (78). He also has points in six-straight games (7G-4A). pic.twitter.com/HnlQfyP1Z5
Can't stop, won't stop.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 27, 2022
Evgeni Malkin officially has three points tonight. pic.twitter.com/Syik2DvcAi
IT'S A THREE-POINT NIGHT FOR EVGENI MALKIN! pic.twitter.com/qwAjWf3l6t— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 4, 2022
HE WILL BE FIRE— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 26, 2022
Evgeni Malkin extends his point streak to five games with this power-play tally (3G-3A). Of Geno's eight goals this season, five of them have come on the man advantage. pic.twitter.com/egX9R78idA
Coach Sullivan on Malkin: "Number one, he loves to score. There aren't too many guys that get more excited about scoring goals than Geno. He really likes to score. But he's also a real competitive guy, and he wants to help our team win." pic.twitter.com/L52AZJNDkR— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 20, 2022
Despite getting a late start due to recovering from surgery, it’s hard to be disappointed by what Malkin brought to the team this past season. He posted above a point per game though it was under his career average. Still, having a 35 year old coming off major surgery jump back into the lineup and hardly miss a beat was a huge boost for the Penguins and reestablish Crosby and Malkin as a true two-headed monster once again.
Malkin keeps doing what Malkin does while still wearing a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater. Malkin will be 36 when next season begins and nearing the end of his Hall of Fame career. There are still contract details to work out which will determine where he plays next year, and if that place is Pittsburgh, then another Geno-type season will be just what the Penguins need from their big Russian bear.
Question to ponder
This one seems pretty obvious, though it’s two parts. Will Malkin return to Pittsburgh next season, and if so, what will his new contract look like?
How would you grade Evgeni Malkin’s 2021-22 season?