On a per-game basis during 2018-19 season, Evgeni Malkin’s numbers weren’t bad.
The veteran centre notched 21 goals and 72 points in 68 contests. However, when you compare those numbers to the ones from the year before, there was a considerable drop-off.
In 2017-18, the Penguins star suited up for 78 contests, recorded an outstanding 42 goals and finished just short of 100 points with 98.
Last season’s decline in production saw the 13-year pro fall from being an elite fantasy option at centre to just an okay one.
But there’s good reason to believe that a motivated Malkin can return to the top tier at his position.
“Last year, not great year,” he said to Mike DeFabo the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier in September. “I want [to be] back to my highest level. I can still play like a top player. I want to show to everyone I’m not done.”
Anybody who follows the star on Instagram has seen the training photos he’s posted.
The guy is ready to go.
Pittsburgh’s head coach, Mike Sullivan, also noticed his improved conditioning.
“No. 1, he’s in great shape,” the bench boss said, according to DeFabo. “He worked extremely hard over the course of the summer to prepare for this training camp.”
Hopefully, Malkin’s commitment to being in great shape for this season results in him playing more games. Although durability hasn’t been his calling card (he’s only appeared in 70 games or more during a season once since 2012), injuries are nearly impossible to predict. If he’s able to hold up healthwise this season, it’ll surely help his prospects.
We know that when the two-time Art Ross Trophy winner is on top of his game, he’s as good of a middle man as any in the NHL. Entering 2019-20 poised to bounce back from a campaign that was below his usual standard, he’s shaping up to be a good fantasy hockey selection at his fourth round ADP.
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