Feature Friday: Evgeni Malkin

 Evgeni Malkin vs. Detroit Red Wings Photo Credit: Getty Images

Evgeni Malkin                     Penguins vs. Detroit Red Wings 2013 pre-season 
Photo Credit: Getty Images


Throughout the 2013-2014 NHL season, I’ll be posting player features each Friday. This week, we’re going to take a look at Evgeni Malkin.

By: Melissa Esing (@Off_thepost)

Don’t let this Pittsburgh center fool you with his accent. His game is on point, even though his English may not be.

I’ll keep it brief with a little background from Malkin’s earlier years. He was born in Magnitogorsk, Russia on July 31, 1986. His father, Vladimir Malkin, was a defenseman for Metallurg Magnitogorsk, so it’s no wonder where the incredible amount of talent came from.

Malkin and RW Alex Ovechkin were two players that most teams desired. When Malkin went into the NHL draft of 2004, he came out a first round second overall pick for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Ovechkin was chosen as a first round first overall pick for the Washington Capitals. Malkin’s career was soon after delayed due to a conflict between the International Hockey Federation and the NHL. The Metallurg Magnitogorsk requested that Malkin respected his contract with them. He continued to blossom with them, which made matters worse. Malkin had the potential to be named one of the best hockey players in the world outside of the NHL.

When he represented his country in during the Olympics, he came out with four assists and two goals within seven games. Malkin finally made the decision to join the Penguins in September 2006 after he resigned with the Super League.

Malkin joined Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby’s line during his fourth game with the Penguins, proving that he can roll with the big guys. It looked to be successful game after successful game for him. At the end of his first regular season, he racked up 52 assists and 33 goals, totaling 85 points. He became the top first-year player, winning the Calder Trophy. He also set the bar high for rookies by  scoring in each of his first six games.

Malkin’s first hat trick took place while playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in January 2008. In the middle of the season, Crosby went out due to an ankle injury, giving Malkin the chance to lead the team. By the end of the season, Malkin totaled 106 points, which was only six behind Ovechkin. Malkin continued the greatness into the playoffs, where the Penguins were led to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they were defeated by Detroit. By the end of the post-season, Malkin decided to extend his contract with the Penguins to five years, for $43.5 million.

In October of 2008, Malkin began by scoring his 200th point in the NHL, which was an assist to Crosby in his 100th career goal. That season, Malkin walked away being the fourth Penguin to win the  scoring championship after racking up 113 points. The previous winners included Mario Lemieux, Jaromír Jágr and Crosby. Malkin was considered one of the greats.

The Penguins seeked revenge on the Red Wings when they defeated them in the 2009 Stanley Cup. Malkin racked up 36 points. He became the leader in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs. Malkin was the first Russian-born hockey player to receive the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Evgeni Malkin holding the Conn Smyth Trophy Photo Credit: Andy Truello

Evgeni Malkin holding the Conn Smythe Trophy
Photo Credit: Andy Truell

During the 2010-2011 season, Malkin had a rough season due to knee injuries. He seized the opportunity to make a complete come-back when Crosby was out due to a concussion during the 2011-2012 season, forcing Malkin to take the lead. Among 50 goals included three hat tricks. He became the only player throughout the season to reach 100 points. His 109 points led him to win a scoring title for the second time.

These were just a few of Malkin’s accomplishments with the NHL. Enough with the past, lets look toward the 6′ 3″ player’s future.

Overall, Malkin is an intelligent and great all-around player, and quite the catch for the Penguins. He’s known as one of the “big three” in Pittsburgh, along with Crosby and Kris Letang.

Malkin is full of youth and a world-class center, which is hard to come by. According to an article on ProHockeyTalk, Malkin sent a text message to the Tribune-Review. The text stated that he has desires to “only play for Pittsburgh.” Malkin signed an 8-year contract with the Penguins to start during the 2014-2015 season, ending after the 2021-2022 season. This is huge for the Penguins. Malkin holds a 1.22 point-per-game average, which is second (only) to Crosby with a 1.45 point-per-game average.

Malkin at the home opener Photo Credit: Brian Stephan

Malkin- home opener 2013
Photo Credit: Brian Stephan

Now, here comes the infamous question. What can we expect? It’s simple. Malkin has made a name for himself already and with eight more years in Pittsburgh, there’s plenty of room for him to continue to grow, especially with the Crosby-Malkin duo. Malkin is very pleased to be staying in his “home away from home” of Pittsburgh for years to come.

“I will play here, I know [the NHL] it’s the best league in the world, I will try my best here,” said Malkin in an interview prior to the 2013-2014 regular season.