So the season isn’t officially over, and we might still see hockey this year, but that doesn’t change that following the trade deadline is generally around when we start playing the “should the Leafs bring them back” game regarding free agents. Keeping that grand tradition alive, we’ll start today with the one of the newest free agents, Denis Malgin.
Malgin was essentially acquired for peanuts when the Leafs dealt Mason Marchment for him. Marchment is on the fast track to a solid AHL career, Malgin was a gamble on being supplementary scoring for the Leafs. The problem is, he hasn’t scored.
The deal was a nothing gained nothing lost type situation, so it’s hard to imagine the Leafs are too invested in Malgin, but let’s explore what the Leafs have in him and truly decide if he’s worth bringing back in 2020-21.
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So, Malgin is definitely got a shot attempt advantage going for him on the ice, and that’s been pretty consistent throughout his career, unfortunately that same advantage comes with some heavy sheltering and usage in primarily offensive situations which undercuts a lot of that as a positive. High danger chances have never been there, not goals, and rarely expected goals, that’s a lot of meh for someone that doesn’t really have a lot of other elements to his game.
At 5’9, 176 lbs, Malgin doesn’t address any of the Leafs need for size, and while he’s listed as a center, the Leafs haven’t shown any interest in using him in that role and we probably shouldn’t expect to see him there if hockey returns this year or if Malgin returns next year.
The advantages to Malgin are probably twofold. The first being that he is young. At 23, there is some home that he’ll find his offensive game, in a sheltered bottom six capacity under the right guidance, but that still seems to be banking on a lot of wishful thinking.
The other aspect that is a positive for Malgin is that he’s cheap, only costing the Leafs $750k this season, and if he came in around the same price next year, he might be worth a second look.
If I had to crystal ball this, I’d say that the Leafs are one and done with Malgin. He was an available gamble for them in February, but the summer is bound to present itself with better options. Arguably the Leafs already have better internal options in Kenny Agostino, and just waiting for Andreas Johnsson and Ilya Mikheyev to be healthy to bump Malgin from the roster.
If Malgin does return, he could be a solid 1C option for the Marlies who don’t really have one, and he could see the occasional callup. Malgin hasn’t spent a lot of time in the AHL while he’s been in North America, and the idea of playing a lot of AHL time for minimal time in the NHL might be enough to drive him back to playing in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe.
No matter what the Leafs decide on the Malgin, it’s not likely to be a costly decision, or one that has too significant an aspect on the direction of the team, so unless he’s become a glue guy in the locker room, these eight games might be all we see of Denis Malgin.