With NHL training camps quickly approaching it is time again for another round of Pittsburgh Penguins over/unders.
We start today with Evgeni Malkin and what we should consider a realistic point expectation.
After a lengthy (and at times dramatic) contract negotiation, the Penguins were finally able to get Malkin re-signed and bring him back on a four-year contract extension that will pay him $6.1 million per season. Whatever your thoughts on Malkin’s current level of play, this is about as good of a deal as the Penguins could have hoped for, while Malkin is still their best option for that second-line center spot. He remains an outstanding producer offensively, and they were not going to find a better player on the open market (or the trade market) for a cheaper price.
Even at age 36 expectations for Malkin should remain somewhat high because he has shown that, when healthy, he can still rack up points.
Over the past three years he has totaled 144 points in 129 regular season games. That is still well over a point per game would average out to a 92-point pace over 82 games.
Historically, this is a pretty unprecedented level of production for that age range.
Dating back to the start of the 2000 season Malkin is one of just 10 players that played at least 100 games in his age 33-35 seasons and average more than a point-per-game.
The other players on the list maintained that level of production into their age 36 season and beyond,
The only player that did not really maintain that level of production into their age 36 season was Nylander. His age 36 season was his last in the NHL and he took on a significantly smaller role (only 14 minutes of ice-time per game) on a Washington Capitals team that had Nicklas Backstrom and Sergei Fedorov still playing ahead of him. He was more of a role player than a focal point of the offense.
Everybody else? Still elite scorers, with most of them continuing that well into their late 30s for several seasons.
Other than Nylander, Lang is the only other player on the list that did not score at least a 70-point pace over 82 games. Even Lang continued to score at a 60-point pace (per 82 games) through his age 39 season with Detroit, Chicago, Montreal, and Arizona.
Given that Malkin has been such an elite scorer (even though this past season), will still play a major role, will still get top power play time, and should have better linemates (at least a full season of Rickard Rakell on his wing) there is no reason to believe he is going to drop off from that point per game average.
The question is going to be the number of games he is actually able to play. This is the big thing that might hold him back from hitting that 70-point mark because injuries and missed time has been the biggest issue for Malkin throughout his career, and especially in recent years.
Obviously if he is simply a point-per-game player he would need at least 70 games to reach 70 points.
At the 1.12 per game average he has had over the past three seasons combined he would need 62 games.
Will he play that many games? Will he maintain that average level of production?
If we set Evgeni Malkin’s over/under at 70.5 points for the 2022-23 season, where are you placing your bets?
Evgeni Malkin over/under for 2022-23 season: 70.5 points
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