Penguins

The 2019-20 prospectus: Evgeni Malkin

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Evgeni Malkin. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

This is the 15th installment in a series of profiles of members of the Penguins' major-league roster, as listed alphabetically on the team's website.

There will be one each weekday until all players have been addressed.

EVGENI MALKIN

Age: 33
Size: 6 foot 3, 195 pounds
Position: Center
Acquired: First-round draft choice, 2004
Salary-cap hit: $9.5 million through 2021-22
2018-19 NHL stats: 21 goals, 51 assists in 68 games

How he fits: Malkin isn't one of the many Penguins forwards who can't be certain on which line -- or at what position -- he will be working during the coming season. Unless extreme circumstances develop, he will be at his customary spot in the middle of the No. 2 line. Malkin presumably will stay on the top power-play unit, too, although it's not clear yet precisely which role he will have on that unit.

Shortcomings: He can be guilty of poor decisions with the puck, which result in turnovers. and is prone to discipline lapses that lead to unnecessary penalties, especially in the offensive zone. Faceoffs have always been a soft spot.

Strengths: Malkin is one of the elite centers in recent NHL history, with a blend of size, skating and skills that allows him to take over games at times. Think of it this way: How many guys can average more than a point per game, as Malkin did in 2018-19, and still have their season be regarded as a nearly abject failure?

Hidden variable: It will be interesting to see how Malkin reacts to the absence of Phil Kessel. Perhaps his game will suffer from the departure of a frequent linemate and power-play partner, or maybe being away from Kessel will allow Malkin to shake some of the bad defensive habits he had last season.

2019-20 expectations: Malkin's performance last season sets the over/under on his offensive output at around a point per game. Bet the over.

The big question: Does Malkin have the drive to rebound from a disappointing season, or is the trajectory of his career headed inexorably downhill?

All profiles to date can be found here

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