Summer Skate: Pittsburgh Penguins
Looking at Evgeni Malkin's health and Marc-Andre Fleury's chances of regressing
Using the VUKOTA projection system of Hockey Prospectus, Insider takes the temperature of key players on every NHL team, continuing with Pittsburgh. For a detailed explanation of Prospectus' proprietary GVT value metric, read more here.
Summer Skate -- Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins nearly won the Eastern Conference regular-season race without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup. That fact alone should have fans excited to see what this team can do in the 2011-12 campaign. Although Crosby's status remains uncertain as he recovers from a concussion suffered in January, Malkin figures to be back and ready to start the season. And the projections show that the All-Star center should provide a very welcome boost for the Pens.
Trending up: C Evgeni Malkin
Last season: 3.5 GVT | VUKOTA projection: 9.5 GVT
Already three seasons ago now, Malkin's breakout campaign of 2008-09 -- when he captured the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the regular season and the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP -- seems far off in the rearview mirror.
The past two seasons, Malkin has taken big steps backward in games played -- from 82 to 67 to 43 -- and in per-game production, from 1.38 to 1.15 to a sub-elite 0.86 points per game.
Some of that can be chalked up to bad luck, though, including a career-low 8.2 percent shooting percentage.
Become an ESPN Insider and read the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins Summer Skate preview, including notes about Marc-Andre Fleury and a key prospect to watch.
We see that you are not an ESPN Insider. Upgrade today and gain access to our exclusive coverage.
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- Pens' Neal banned five for intentional knee
- Malkin scores in return as Pens top Jackets
- Senators' Spezza scores SO winner vs. Flyers
- Penguins place Orpik on IR with concussion
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Old Time Hockey Men's Mario Lemieux #66 Name and Number T-Shirt