To celebrate 60 NHL drafts, the people at NHL.com are doing a countdown. And, for once, they figured enough to throw Evgeni Malkin a bone (after famously snubbing him during the league’s 100th year celebrations for the top 100 players). It’s small, but hey, gotta start somewhere.
Here is the debut of: 60 Diamonds: The Greatest Picks of the 60 NHL Drafts.— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) May 28, 2023
Today we begin with Nos. 60-51.https://t.co/GYB7xM12do
Malkin’s arrival in Pittsburgh in 2006-07, one season after Sidney Crosby, heralded an era of success that led to three Stanley Cup championships for the Penguins. Malkin had 85 points (33 goals, 52 assists) in 78 games and won the Calder Trophy that season, then followed with the first of his three 100-point seasons. In 2008-09, he led the NHL with 113 points (35 goals, 78 assists) and was voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as most valuable player of the playoffs after he led the League with 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 24 games and helped the Penguins win the Cup. In 2011-12 he again led the NHL in scoring (109 points; 50 goals, 59 assists) and won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. The 36-year-old center is third in Penguins history in goals (471), assists (758) and points (1,229). He’s also one of 13 players in NHL history to average at least a point per game in at least 1,000 regular-season games and 100 playoff games; 11 of the 13 are in the Hall of Fame, and the other is Crosby.
“Malkin has given the Pittsburgh Penguins immense value for the No. 2 pick of the 2004 NHL Draft. The center has won the Stanley Cup three times. He has won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring champion twice. He has won the Calder Trophy, the Hart Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy. Only 18 players in NHL history have averaged more points per game in the regular season than Malkin has at 1.16 (minimum 50 games), and he has averaged 1.02 points per game in the playoffs.”
The Penguins were the worst team in the league in 2003-04, but got jumped for the No. 1 pick and the rights to get Alex Ovechkin in the draft lottery. Malkin was seen as an intriguing consolation prize right from the start and has more than lived up to that billing by delivering a Hall of Fame career and being one of the most productive players in his generation.
Now the interest shifts towards which other Pittsburgh players will be on the list in the top 50. Surely Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby have to be near the very top. Jaromir Jagr ought to be up there too, and maybe there’s a spot somewhere in the mix for Marc-Andre Fleury, given his career longevity and accomplishments. Jake Guentzel has been great as a third round find, but is he going to crack a league-wide list? Probably not. Kris Letang at 62nd overall? Maybe.
But at least the NHL finally gave Malkin some spotlight and recognition, for a change.