With a long-term injury to top line forward Evengii Dadonov, the Panthers decided to give Denis Malgin a chance. The 2015 4th round pick surprised many last year, as he fought for and won the 3rd line center job to take while Nick Bjugstad started the year on the injured reserve. Malgin started strong with 4 goals and 4 assists. After fizzling, he was called up late in the year where he managed to get another pair of goals. Malgin played 47 NHL games last year.
This year, Malgin was beat out by Jared McCann and Connor Brickley for a starting job. When in the lineup, he didn’t make much of an impact. The Panthers wanted the 20 year old to get playing time so he was sent to the minors. Determined to earn playing time, Malgin dazzled the AHL by getting 14 points in 13 games. Fans in the NHL wanted him up.
The fanbase got their wish this past Sunday. After an injury to Evengii Dadonov, the Panthers sent Chase Balisy who had been in for Derek Mackenzie to the minors. In exchange Malgin was sent to the big show. Malgin was given a big opportunity and this opportunity will make or break his career. He was put on the top line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.
Malgin played well during his top line debut Monday although he didn’t get a point. After being invisible for much of the game, Malgin who is notorious for being a clutch player delivered. With only 79 seconds left in regulation in a 4-4 tie game, Malgin one timed a Mark Pysyk pass point blank that found it’s way into the back of the net. Malgin’s laser got him his first goal of the year and it was a key one.
Although Malgin might not always be there, I would feel safe when he is out there in the clutch. Right now he is playing well alongside the red hot Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Look for Malgin to continue putting up more points during December. It will be interesting to see what happens when Dadonov returns.