Playing under the spotlight and microscope is always tough. It can make the job a thousand times harder. For Denis Malgin, the spotlight and microscope were no joke in Toronto.
Malgin spent the most recent stretch of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs but in a rough patch. Acquired from the Florida Panthers, his time in a Leafs jersey saw him play only 31 games with two goals and two assists.
There was certainly some scrutiny to be had when the Colorado Avalanche got him in a trade which sent Dryden Hunt the other way back in December.
We’d heard what Malgin could offer. From his speed, skating ability, and slick moves with his hands all nowhere near pristine, the potential was there. But could he scrape away the rock to find the jewel?
His recent form seems to suggest the process is well underway. His confidence levels are high.
The 26-year-old in 25 games with the Avs has done superiorly better than with Toronto. He has six goals and two assists. While those numbers don’t jump off the page, look at his recent form and underlying numbers.
He’s having a career-best shooting percentage and individually has a 56.35 percent Corsi. He also has expected goals of 11.35, both per Natural Stat Trick. If he did reach 11 goals, he would match his career high and would put him on track for the most goals in the least number of games in his career.
Furthermore, his form has been stellar. He’s got three goals in his last five games and seems to have found some chemistry in his role on the fourth line, despite not getting on the board last night in a barnburner game against the Montreal Canadiens. He’s been on the wing with Alex Newhook in the middle and Matt Nieto on the other wing.
After being forced into a higher position when he first arrived in Colorado, he had no success. He couldn’t find the net and looked off on the ice similarly to Hunt. He too had the injury bug bite him early in his Colorado career to set him back.
Now, he’s on a roll. And he doesn’t look to be stopping.
Should he continue at the pace he’s on, it will be extremely helpful for an Avs team which has struggled with depth all season long. As Mark Rycroft said in Saturday’s broadcast against the Arizona Coyotes, he could be like a mini-Andre Burakovsky. He’s been streaky similar to Burky, and both started at a lower role in Colorado.
But, the best thing to do to help your chances is score. Malgin has succeeded as of late. The question is will he keep it up? Can he continue to adapt, grind, and find ways to put the puck in the back of the net while having limited ice time in struggling depth for the Avs?
It’s certainly a question no one knows the answer to. Of course, we’d all like to see him succeed not just for his career’s sake and benefit, but for Colorado’s sake and benefit.
Malgin is only on a league-minimum contract at $750K a year on the final year of his contract before becoming an RFA over the summer. With several other higher priorities on the list for Jared Bednar, Joe Sakic, and Chris MacFarland, Malgin could slip through the cracks and be fighting with these other free agents for a contract at season’s end.
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Which player performance this season has been the most surprising?
But, if he keeps getting better and keeps succeeding, they just might have to look at him to keep his services within the depth of the Avs squad. He has a chance to do so Wednesday night against his former club back in Toronto. Let’s see if he can prove everyone who was looking under the microscope wrong.
What do you think the future holds for Denis Malgin? Does he stay in an Avs uniform or head elsewhere? Let us know in the comments below!