The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired 23-year-old forward Denis Malgin from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Mason Marchment, the club announced on Wednesday.
The undrafted Mason Marchment has been a late-blooming project prospect for the Leafs who brought something to the system that the team doesn’t have much of: a big body with a nastiness to his game along with good goal-scoring ability at the AHL level. However, his two NHL callups so far have not shown him to be ready for the next step. Against players with NHL speed and strength, Marchment — in very limited opportunities, granted — wasn’t able to play the type of game he needs to play to be effective. Frankly, he still looks like he has a ways to go in improving his lower-body strength and overall balance on his skates. Nonetheless, he was starting to dominate offensively in the AHL with a big offensive outburst in the past few weeks, and the 24-year-old still has some untapped potential and value worth exploring.
The decision to make a hockey trade and move Marchment in the deal likely speaks to management’s desire not to part with more of their draft capital than they have already between the Patrick Marleau and Jack Campbell deals.
While he assuaged some of these complaints with the Kyle Clifford acquisition, the optics of a move where Dubas — already perceived by many critics as building a monolithic team identity consisting of a soft, skilled roster too light on sandpaper — dealt his biggest, toughest up-and-coming forward for a 5’9 depth forward will be panned by some. Dubas looks to be seeking a bottom-six skill boost here — and the need for a bottom-six upgrade is definitely real with the loss of Andreas Johnsson and Ilya Mikheyev long-term, creating a shallow scene at the bottom of their lineup, where they’ve auditioned the likes of Marchment, Egor Korshkov, and rotated Dmytro Timashov and Frederik Gauthier in and out of the lineup in search of answers.
The speedy Malgin has played some center, although his faceoff numbers are putrid (under 40%) and he’s better viewed as a winger (he also does not penalty kill). Alex Kerfoot has more or less moved to the left-wing full time under Sheldon Keefe with Andreas Johnsson and Ilya Mikheyev out for the season, leaving a third line centered by Frederik Gauthier last night in Pittsburgh. That is certainly not the type of center depth needed for a team to have legitimate aspirations of making a push down the stretch of the regular season and into the playoffs. Whether Malgin gets a trial run at center as a potential solution there remains to be seen, but it appears to be asking a lot.
Malgin has put up four goals and 12 points in 36 games (10 even-strength, two power-play points) playing 12:20 per game this season, including around a minute a night on Florida’s power play. Over his career, the Swiss-born right-hand shot has 28 goals and 60 points in 184 NHL appearances, so he’s produced around .3 points per game at the NHL level over a fairly significant sample size in the league.
Just how much Malgin is going to move the needle also remains to be seen, but there could be some untapped potential remaining here as well — Malgin is certainly a better skater who is more skilled and proven, and he is actually a year and a half Marchment’s junior, so the Leafs have acquired a younger, legitimate NHL player in exchange for a winger who has not yet proven himself capable of taking a regular shift in the league (although Marchment perhaps could this season with the right opportunities). Both players are RFAs at season’s end.
Whether the Leafs should have hung onto Marchment and promoted a depth piece with more NHL experience like Kenny Agostino — who has taken plenty of NHL shifts and chipped in a little bit offensively in the past couple of years — is a question worth asking, but Dubas’ bet here is that Malgin has more to give going forward and offers more offensive upside as a depth scorer than what’s currently NHL-ready in the system.
Denis Malgin Scouting Report
An offensive forward with decent playmaking abilities, the diminutive Denis Malgin impresses with his strong hockey sense and offensive instincts. Has tremendous puck control and handles the puck with finesse, while rushing up the ice or deking past the opponents defense. Needs to improve his shot, although accurate it’s missing power. He also lacks confidence in his face-off play, regardless of his excellent puck-skills. Not overly flashy, but he reaches good top-end speed by keeping his legs moving. Can guide a Power Play and despite his small stature will stand his ground, when he has to battle along the boards. (by Rafik Soliman, Elite Prospcets, December 2014)
Denis Malgin StatisticsDate of Birth: Jan 18, 1997
Place of Birth: Olten, SUI
Nation: Switzerland / Russia
Height: 5'9" / 175 cm
Weight: 176 lbs / 80 kg
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