It’s been a little over three months since the Colorado Avalanche acquired Denis Malgin from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Dryden Hunt, and it’s safe to say, the trade has worked out well for Colorado.
Malgin came to Colorado with little to no fanfare. That’s about what you’d expect for a guy that was traded for someone the Avalanche got for free off waivers. But after a slow start to his Avalanche career in terms of production, he’s really taken off in the last month.
Now, with the injury to Artturi Lehkonen, he’s getting a chance to play in the top six. And against the Detroit Red Wings, everything he does well was on display. He was tailor-made to play in the Avalanche system, where skilled players that can carry the puck in and out of the zone with possession can thrive. We saw it with Andre Burakovsky, and to a lesser extent, we’re seeing it with Malgin.
I went through and picked out some of Malgin‘s better moments in the game against the Red Wings. He’s gotten three games in the top six, and if he keeps this up, he’ll continue to get opportunities down the stretch.
Delay and Weave
Malgin didn’t pick up an assist on the first goal, but he did help create the play. After picking the puck off in the neutral zone, he gains the zone with possession. As he likes to do, he moves laterally to try to create some space. By doing so, he delays enough for everyone to get into the zone. He hits Makar with the pass, and the rest of the team finishes off the play. That creativity and confidence to weave in and out of traffic has been noticeable since he got to Colorado, and it’s been paying off in the last month.
I like this play, because Malgin didn’t like what he saw in the neutral zone, so he sent it back to the defensemen to reset the breakout. He could have tried to hit the red line and dump it in, but that’s not how he plays, and a lot of the time, that’s not how the Avalanche like to play.
Eventually, they do go for the dump-in, but Malgin beats his man to the puck with his speed and gets a good shot off.
I’ve commented on it before, but Malgin and MacKinnon seem to work well together when they are out there together. While Malgin tends to hold onto the puck a little long sometimes, here he times his pass perfectly.
It actually starts with a nice catch of the stretch pass with his skate. Then he shows off his confidence, as he protects the puck from Seider while standing still. He knows MacKinnon is coming, and likely hears him yelling. He waits for the perfect moment to dish it off, and puts it in the only spot it can go. The pass hits MacKinnon perfectly in stride between defenders, and he’s off to the races for the goal. You can see afterwards just how much MacKinnon loved the pass.
Slow and Steady
Malgin carries it from the circles in his end into the offensive zone with possession, then delays for more help to come. There wasn’t much there off the rush, so no point in forcing something and giving up possession. He waits long enough for Johnson to get there, and while it’s not the best pass, it does the job. Johnson gets it down low to Compher, who draws the penalty, and the Avalanche are headed to the powerplay. It all starts with Malgin’s ability and confidence to hold onto the puck until he sees something he likes.
The game was over at this point, and nothing comes of this play because the puck rolls off Malgin’s stick, but I just love the move he makes on Andrew Copp up high in the zone. The move was so good that you can see the frustration and anger in Copp when he goes down. He even tries to come back and get Malgin, but misses him. Malgin is a shifty guy, and that offensive skill has been a welcome addition to the bottom six the last few months.
Is Malgin a gamebreaker? No, he’s not, but that’s okay. What he has proven to be is a nice depth addition, and one they may be able to keep for cheap next season. That’s mighty valuable in the salary cap era.
Not bad for someone acquired for next to nothing.