With a difficult 2018-19 season behind him, Evgeni Malkin is ready to get back to dominating for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2019-20.
Hockey is back! With NHL preseason starting on Monday, teams across the league will be looking to see which players are worth developing and which players aren’t worth putting out on the ice. For the Pittsburgh Penguins, the preseason will be the first chance the team has to put last season’s disappointing first-round playoff exit behind them and focus on the upcoming season.
One player, in particular, Evgeni Malkin, is ready to put last season behind him and prove he is still a star for the Penguins. Coming off a career-worst season, Malkin has something to prove during the 2019-20 season, and it would be foolish to bet against him.
Last season, Malkin battled injuries and just didn’t look like himself on the ice. With 72 points and a horrific -25 plus/minus, it was clear he wasn’t the player the Penguin expected him to be last season. Things eventually became so bad at one point last year that Malkin found himself at the center of trade rumors all offseason before the team ultimately decided to trade away Phil Kessel, who, by the way, does not seem to be liked by Malkin.
With that said, the Penguins decided to keep Malkin around, and from recent reports, he’s ready to reward the team’s confidence. It appears the former Hart Trophy winner switched up his offseason workouts and finds himself in better shape going into the season, likely to avoid the injury bug again. Malkin also sounds motivated to improve according to this quote he gave to TribLive,
"“Always, when you have a bad year you want (to improve),” he said. “My points last year, not a great year. Last year, I (wasn’t) happy for sure. Now, it’s a new challenge for me. I want back to my highest level.”"
It’s obvious that with the Penguins looking to get back to their once-dominant form, Evgeni Malkin is prepared to return to his former self. Few players in the NHL are as naturally-skilled as he is, and with Kessel now in Arizona, Malkin may feel a sense of peace heading into the season. In better shape with something to prove, Malkin seems primed to enjoy a career resurgence.