Malkin is coming off of a shaky season in Pittsburgh. While there is no doubt that he’s an exceptional talent, he failed to put up consistent numbers in the Steel City. Over the last three seasons, Malkin has totaled 72 points in 2016-2017 (62 games), 98 points in 2017-2018 (78 games) and 72 points this past season (68 games).
In addition, Malkin’s goals above replacement (GAR) value isn’t where you’d hope it would be. In the visual below (created by Sean Tierney, Data from EvolvingWild), you’ll see that Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon all had higher GARs than Malkin.
Testing The Water
Also, with the Penguins failing to make it far into the playoffs, it’s evident that Penguins owner, Mario Lemieux and his general manager, Jim Rutherford are testing the market. They are looking to see if a shake up would benefit the Penguins long term.
With the Penguins allegedly testing the waters, Malkin’s name has popped up and the Panthers have popped up as a potential trade partner.
Malkin To Florida?
The Panthers would be landing one talented centreman if they were to acquire Malkin.
But, the trade talks around Evgeni Malkin could take awhile. It’s Evgeni Malkin Watch! So, buckle your seat belt. It could be a bumpy ride. It wasn’t too long ago when the Panthers were in the rumour mill about potentially adding fellow Russians Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin via free agency this summer.
While this is just speculation, you’d have to think that Malkin is intrigued about moving to South Florida and playing alongside his fellow countrymen. In addition, both Malkin and Panarin are from the same oblast. They both hail from the Chelyabinsk Oblast. Malkin grew up in Magnitogorsk and Panarin grew up in Korkino. The distance between the two towns is roughly three and a half hours.
While Bobrovsky isn’t from the same oblast as Malkin and Panarin, Bobrovsky has played alongside Malkin at the international level. All three players have represented Russia and have seen success on the international stage.
Aside from international play and whether they are from the same region in Russia, we’ve seen fellow countrymen jump at the opportunity of playing alongside each other in the NHL. Once upon a time, Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings to play alongside Nicklas Lidstrom. Mats Sundin signed with the Vancouver Canucks to join forces with fellow Swedes, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Alexander Radulov signed with the Montreal Canadiens and joined fellow Russians, Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov.
The issue is that there is no guarantee that Panarin nor Bobrovsky will sign in Florida. None. They were mentioned in rumours. Sure, there is a connection between Panthers head coach, Joel Quenneville and Panarin. The relationship between the two could help reel in Panarin, but no one knows what will happen. In addition, both players might test the market for a while. Not everyone signs on July 1st.
Plus, if Panarin and Bobrovsky choose not to sign in Florida, the chances of the Panthers acquiring Malkin aren’t great. Malkin has a No Movement Clause. He’d need to waive it in order to be dealt. While the Panthers do have a promising core and several intriguing prospects, the Panthers might not be a Stanley Cup Contender just yet. Without Panarin and Bobrovsky signing on in Florida, the chance of hoisting up the Cup in Sunrise, Florida seems a little less likely.