Evgeni Malkin, the 101st greatest NHL player of all time, turned 33 years old on Wednesday.
To commemorate the occasion, let's take a look back at some of Malkin's memorable moments.
JUNE 27, 2004: Malkin drafted No. 2 overall
Despite finishing last in the regular season standings, the Penguins earned the No. 2 pick in the 2004 entry draft after the Capitals won the draft lottery. The Capitals selected Alex Ovechkin, the clear No. 1 of the draft class, and the Penguins took Malkin with their pick.
"He's going to be a special player," head scout Greg Malone said of the pick.
AUGUST 2006: Malkin flees Russia
Malkin's KHL club, Magnitogorsk, coerced Malkin into signing a one-year deal against his wishes for the 2006-07 season. When Magnitogorsk traveled to Helsinki, Finland for a game in August, Malkin made his escape.
Malkin, then 20 years old, hid out using a fake name in a Helsinki apartment waiting for a visa. After five days, Malkin and his agents hopped on a plane for Los Angeles. After three weeks, Malkin got on a plane headed to Pittsburgh, where he met Sidney Crosby and Sergei Gonchar at Mario Lemieux's house. He’d made it.
OCTOBER 18, 2006: NHL debut
Malkin sustained a shoulder injury in the Penguins' first preseason game in September, putting his NHL debut on hold. He finally made his debut against Martin Brodeur, and scored his first NHL goal.
"I remember my first game against New Jersey, I stepped on the ice and everybody stood up, gave me love," Malkin later said. "It was pretty nice. I feel like the city waited for me. They wanted me here. I enjoyed being here every day."
Malkin scored a goal in each of his first six NHL games.
JANUARY 3, 2008: First NHL hat trick
Malkin scored his first NHL hat trick in a 6-2 win over the Leafs:
OCTOBER 18, 2008: 200th NHL point
Malkin earned his 200th career point with an assist on Crosby's 100th career goal and 300th career point. The puck was split down the middle so each would have a piece:
APRIL 12, 2009: Malkin wins Art Ross
Malkin clinched the Art Ross Trophy with a goal in a 3-1 win over the Canadiens in the final game of the season. He was the second Russian to ever win the award, and the fourth Penguin.
"It's my third year playing in the NHL and I understand how to play here," Malkin said after the game. "My English is a little bit better and my game is better."
MAY 21, 2009: First playoff hat trick
Malkin was dominant in the 2009 playoffs, and shifted into another gear for the Eastern Conference final series against the Hurricanes. He scored a hat trick in Game 2:
JUNE 12, 2009: Conn Smythe, first Stanley Cup
Malkin led the postseason in scoring with 14 goals and 22 assists to secure the Conn Smythe Trophy, becoming the first Russian to win the award:
JUNE 20, 2012: Malkin wins Hart
Malkin was named the league MVP, to go along with his Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy.
"It's a special day to me," said Malkin. "I hope it's not the last one. I try to work every year and I hope to be here again."
APRIL 28, 2014: Another playoff hat trick
After not scoring in the first five games of the playoffs, Malkin scored a hat trick in Game 6 to help the Penguins clinch the series over the Blue Jackets and advance to the second round:
MARCH 12, 2019: 1,000th career point
Malkin became the 88th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000-point mark with an assist on a Phil Kessel goal in a 5-3 win over the Capitals.
Matt Sunday celebrated Malkin's birthday by creating a collection of his favorite Malkin photos. That can be found here.
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