Denis Malgin has had an interesting NHL career. Although he’s now a depth forward who’s played eight games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019-20 but none this past season, he had a much more prominent role with the Florida Panthers a couple of seasons ago.
He drew my attention for a post because, similar to Alex Galchenyuk, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas must have seen something in the young Swiss player and took the opportunity to bring him to the team in February 2020. Similar to Galchenyuk, can he have a break through with the team next season?
Malgin Has Surprised Before
If you’re a Maple Leafs’ fan but don’t recall where Malgin came from, he was brought in on a trade with the Panthers for Mason Marchment. At the time, Marchment was “found money” for the team because he was an undrafted player who worked his way up through the Maple Leafs’ system. When Malgin became available, the Maple Leafs jumped.
At the time, newly hired Maple Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe noted that, although the organization had worked hard to develop Marchment, “We found (in Malgin) a way to get a younger player with more NHL experience and more ready to contribute right now.” [By the way, Marchment landed well with the Panthers and played 33 games with the in 2020-21 and scored two goals and eight assists for 18 points.]
I’m thinking there might be another surprise in Malgin, who was given No. 62 as a player when he tried out at the Florida Panthers training camp, and surprisingly made the cut of the final 21 players on their roster. Can he surprise again with the Maple Leafs during the 2021-22 season?
He did have success before with the Panthers. Specifically, starting in the 2016-17 season and extending into the 2019-20 season when he was picked up by the Maple Leafs at the trade deadline, he played no fewer than 36 games each season. And, for a depth player he showed some scoring ability. His best season was 2017-18 when he scored 11 goals and 11 assists (for 22 points) in 51 games.
Malgin’s 2020-21 Season
After he moved to the Maple Leafs last season, as noted he played eight games but didn’t score. Then COVID-19 hit and things got creative. During the 2020-21 season, he returned home to Switzerland and played with Lausanne HC of the Switzerland’s National League where he scored 19 goals and added 23 assists (for 42 points) in 45 games. He also scored two goals and an assist in the four playoff games he played with his team.
When his Swiss-A league season was over and the NHL season still going, he returned to Toronto and was assigned to the Marlies; however, he didn’t play and ended the season on the Maple Leafs’ taxi squad. For Malgin’s part, he seemed happy enough to be playing in Switzerland, but really relished looking forward to making the Maple Leafs’ roster.
Malgin noted: “It’s a good chance for me because I feel a year more mature. We’ll see what comes out in the end, but I’m ready to fight for a place and I will do anything for it.”
Malgin Is Wanted Back in Switzerland
The question is whether Malgin has a chance to make the Maple Leafs’ roster next season. Given his scoring ability that he showed with the Panthers and then carried out in the Swiss-A league, there’s no reason he can’t add second scoring in the team’s bottom six. That additional scoring is something the Maple Leafs could benefit from.
However, it might be that Malgin could play back in Switzerland. Word in May was that the Zurich Lions in the Swiss National League had contracted Malgin looking to see if it might acquire Malgin’s services for their team.
The Lions’ organization knows Malgin well. He was part of their organization as a junior player. In fact, he was teammates with another current member of the Maple Leafs’ roster – Auston Matthews before this season’s Rocket Richard Trophy winner was drafted back in 2015-16.
Does Malgin Have a Chance to Make the Maple Leafs’ Roster Next Season?
Given that Malgin returned to Toronto for the end of the 2020-21 season, it’s likely that his priority would be to earn a roster spot with the Maple Leafs so he could remain in the NHL for the future. I also believe there’s a spot for Malgin on the team’s bottom six for the 2021-22 season that will, unlike this past season, be dominated by youth.
If it looks as if Malgin won’t have a good chance to make the Maple Leafs’ roster, I think there’s a chance he might return to Switzerland for the near future and become a star in his home country. It just seems like a better path than playing a season with the Marlies.
Wherever he plays, I am hoping that Malgin has a chance to play top minutes with a team that allows him to hone his skills in on-ice competition and create chemistry with some other highly-skilled players. In the long run, that seems like it would be a good opportunity both for him and for the Maple Leafs.
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