Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Grades – Evgeni Malkin


Evgeni Malkin, arguably a top-five player in the world and a name that springs controversy and debate among the Pittsburgh Penguins faithful more than anyone else wearing the black and gold.

More from Penguins News

Malkin seems to find himself among trade talk and debates every summer. Is he happy in Pittsburgh? Does he welcome a change of scenery? It’s an endless cycle. While all of that speculation never seems to amount to anything but ramblings to create controversy, Malkin continues to perform amidst it all.

The past season was trying for all four members of the Pittsburgh Penguins core, namely Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Marc-Andre Fleury, and of course, Geno. They saw their supporting cast dwindle with injuries before eventually succumbing to health issues of their own. All the while, Sid and Geno took the brunt of the blame as usual as the Pens spun in a downward spiral until their eventual elimination at the hands of the New York Rangers.

Malkin played in 69 games and tallied 70 points (28g, 42a). His 1.01 points-per-game slotted him in the seventh overall spot in the NHL. He accomplished those impressive numbers with a rotating cast of wingers that were rarely true top-six talents. Blake Comeau, the surprise story of the season that mainly only produced while with Geno, and the slumping Chris Kunitz were his most common line mates. For most centers around the league, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Take a look at Malkin’s HERO chart from last season, via ownthepuck.blogspot.ca.

His production speaks for itself without the use of charts. But, @MimicoHero does a great job of providing a visualization of just how impactful a player is with his HERO charts.

Though it’s hard to criticize Malkin given the production that is presented above, I do have two concerns about his performance.

First, his unwillingness to fire the puck is extremely frustrating to watch and negatively impacts both his line at full-strength and the Pittsburgh Penguins power play. Geno is the most dangerous shooter on this team. While he may not rival pure snipers like Alex Ovechkin or James Neal, he’s still dangerously accurate and has good velocity. Distributing to less formidable shooters too often is an issue that he needs to remedy.

Second, and I’ll admit that this likely wouldn’t have changed the outcome in this year’s post-season, Malkin’s lack of production in the playoffs this past season was concerning. I understand that he was playing injured, and I also understand that his playoff points-per-game prove that he can perform in the post-season. But, when you’re playing multiple one-goal games and losing 2-1 you’d hope to see number 71 start finding his way to the score sheet.

I’ll give Evgeni Malkin a B for his performance in 2014-15. He and Crosby remain a large part of why the power play has struggled, and I’d like to see him be a bit more selfish with the puck. Hopefully we’ll get to see him alongside more talented wingers next season and give him a chance to truly succeed.

Next: Offseason Grades - David Perron

More from Pens Labyrinth