Evgeni Vladimirovich Malkin (born July 31, 1986), also popularly known as Geno, is a Russian professional ice hockey center and alternate captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Chosen second overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Penguins, Malkin’s career in the NHL was delayed because of an international transfer dispute until 2006–07, in which he captured the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s best rookie. In his second season, he helped carry Pittsburgh to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals and was a runner-up for the Hart Memorial Trophy. The following season, Malkin totaled 113 points and won the Art Ross Trophy, awarded annually to the top-scorer in the NHL. He then led all players in playoff scoring, en route to a Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup championship.
Internationally, Malkin has competed for Russia in two IIHF World U18 Championships and three IIHF World U20 Championships, capturing one gold, two silvers and one bronze medal, as a junior. In 2006, in addition to a silver medal, he was also named tournament MVP. As a senior, he has played in three IIHF World Championships, capturing two bronze medals.
Malkin’s father, Vladimir, was a defenceman for the same team he played for in Russia, Metallurg Magnitogorsk. His brother, Denis, was also in Magnitogorsk’s hockey system.
Malkin is a product of the Metallurg Magnitogorsk hockey program. Prior to being drafted, he made his Russian Superleague debut in the 2003–04 season as a 17-year-old. He also made his international debut for Russia during the 2003 U-18 World Championships, where he skated on the top line with Alexander Ovechkin. The team went on to claim the bronze medal.
After his first professional season in Russia, Malkin was drafted 2nd overall (behind national teammate Alexander Ovechkin) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Upon being drafted, Malkin would remain in Russia through to the 2005-06 season. In the midst of a dispute between the NHL and the IIHF, the Russian Hockey Federation refused to ratify a transfer agreement, forcing Malkin to honor his existing contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Before the start of the 2006–07 season, it appeared Malkin would remain in Russia another season after signing a one-year contract with Metallurg, but after some legal maneuvering, Malkin relieved himself of his Russian obligations and signed an entry-level contract with the Penguins. On September 20, 2006, in his first preseason game as a Pittsburgh Penguin, Malkin collided with teammate John LeClair and dislocated his shoulder, which forced him to miss the start of the season. Subsequently, his NHL debut would be delayed until October 18, against the New Jersey Devils, in which he would score his first NHL goal against Martin Brodeur.
To begin his NHL career, Malkin set a modern-day record as the first player to score at least one goal in each of his first six games. No player had achieved this feat since the league’s inaugural season in 1917–18, when Joe Malone scored at least one goal in 14 consecutive games to start his NHL career. Malone’s mark, however, was set when technically every player was playing in his first NHL season; he had already played almost a decade in the league’s predecessor, the NHA. Malkin’s streak was eventually stopped in his seventh game by the San Jose Sharks.
Playing on a team with fellow phenom Sidney Crosby, Malkin finished his rookie campaign with 33 goals and 85 points, leading all first-year players and capturing the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
When Malkin arrived in the United States, he spoke no English, but through the help of fellow Russian and teammate Sergei Gonchar, and his cousins, he eventually started to give short, simple interviews in the language.
In his sophomore season, Malkin recorded his first NHL hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs, on January 3, 2008. He earned another three-goal performance several games later, on January 14, against the New York Rangers. Midway through the season, when more heralded teammate and captain Sidney Crosby went down with an ankle injury, Malkin seized the opportunity to lead the Penguins, scoring 44 points in the 28 games Crosby was absent. In total, Malkin completed the season with 106 points, six points behind Alexander Ovechkin for the Art Ross Trophy. Malkin continued to dominate into the playoffs as the Penguins made it to the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. He scored three points against Detroit in the finals, totaling 22 points overall, but the Penguins were defeated by Detroit in six games.
Malkin’s sophomore season culminated in a Hart Memorial Trophy nomination as league MVP—the award was given to Ovechkin—and First Team All-Star honors. On July 2, 2008, with one year left in his entry-level contract, he signed a contract extension with the Penguins for $43.5 million over five years.
Malkin began the 2008–09 season by scoring his 200th NHL point with an assist to Sidney Crosby on October 18, 2008. The goal was Crosby’s 100th career goal and 300th career point. Crosby had a team trainer cut the puck in half so both players could commemorate the moment. Voted as a starter to the 2009 NHL All-Star Game later in the season, Malkin won the shooting accuracy segment of the Skills Competition, initially shooting four-for-four before beating Dany Heatley three-for-four in a tie-breaker. After having finished runner-up to Alexander Ovechkin the previous season for the Art Ross Trophy, Malkin captured the scoring championship with 113 points. He became the second Russian-born player to win it, after Ovechkin, and the fourth Penguin, after Mario Lemieux, Jaromír Jágr, and Crosby.
On June 12, 2009, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup by defeating the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in game 7 of the finals. Malkin tallied 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) to lead all players in scoring and received the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He is the first Russian-born player to win the Conn Smythe. He is also just the second player in franchise history to win both the Art Ross and Conn Smythe trophies in the same year. The other Penguin to accomplish this feat was Hall of Famer and team co-owner/president Mario Lemieux (1992).
Malkin’s NHL career began with controversy, as a transfer dispute between the NHL and the IIHF delayed his Pittsburgh debut.
On August 7, 2006, it appeared that the 20-year-old Malkin had come to a compromise with Metallurg and signed a deal that would have kept him in Russia until May 2007. However, Malkin stated that he signed the one-year contract not as a compromise but because of the immense “psychological pressure” his former club exerted on him. Desiring to play in the NHL, he left Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s training camp in Helsinki, Finland, before it had started on August 12. It would later appear that the team had taken Malkin’s passport away to prevent him from leaving, but it was eventually given back to him and Malkin was allowed to pass through Finnish customs. Meeting with his agent, J. P. Barry, the two quickly departed and waited for Malkin’s visa clearance from the US Embassy.
In order to legally leave the team, on August 15, Malkin invoked, by fax, a provision of Russian labor law that allowed him to cancel his one-year contract by giving his employer two weeks notice. Having untied himself of obligations in Russia, he was able to sign an entry-level contract with the Penguins on September 5, 2006.
Following his first NHL game with Pittsburgh, on October 19, 2006, Malkin’s former Russian hockey club filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NHL and the Penguins in the United States District Court for the southern district of New York. The lawsuit claimed that Malkin should not be permitted to play in the NHL because he is still under contract in Russia. The claim also sought unspecified monetary damages. The motion for an injunction was, however, denied on November 15, 2006, ensuring that Malkin would continue play in the NHL that season. The lawsuit was furthermore dismissed by the District Court on February 1, 2007.
Malkin made his first international appearance with Russia at the 2003 IIHF World U18 Championships in Yaroslavl. He helped Russia to a bronze medal, scoring 9 points in 6 games. He was named Russia’s U18 captain for the 2004 IIHF World U18 Championships the following year and scored 8 points as Russia improved to a gold medal.
Several months prior to his second and final U18 tournament, Malkin debuted at the under-20 level with Russia at the 2004 World Junior Championships. In his first of three tournament appearances, he contributed 5 points in 6 games, but could not help Russia reach the podium. The following year, Malkin finished second in team scoring at the 2005 World Junior Championships to Alexander Ovechkin with 10 points. Led by the duo of Malkin and Ovechkin (the two had also played together the previous year), Russia won the silver, losing to Canada in the gold medal game. Later in 2005, Malkin made his debut with the Russian men’s team at the 2005 World Championships. Despite failing to score a goal in the tournament, Malkin contributed 4 assists to help Russia to a bronze medal in Vienna.
In 2006, Malkin did triple duty for Russia, competing in his third World Junior Championships, his first Winter Olympics, and his second World Championships. He was named the top forward and MVP of the 2006 World Junior Championships in January, captaining Russia to a second straight silver medal and gold medal game loss to Canada. Less than two months later, Malkin was given one of the final spots on Team Russia for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, where he helped the team to a fourth-place finish with 6 points in 7 games. Then in May, Malkin played in the 2006 World Championship, where he led Russia in team scoring with 9 points.
Following his NHL rookie campaign with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Malkin was named to Team Russia for the 2007 World Championships, where he achieved a personal best for the tournament of 10 points. He also captured his second World Championships bronze.
Malkin was selected to play for the Russian Olympic Team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, where he led Team Russia in points yet again with 3 goals and 6 points in 4 games. Team Russia ultimately lost to Canada in the quarterfinals, finishing 6th overall, which incidentally is their worst placing ever at an Olympic Games (including the former Soviet Union and Unified Team teams).
Awards and achievements
- NHL Rookie of the Month – October 2006, November 2006
- Calder Memorial Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year) – 2007
- Michel Brière Rookie of the Year Award (Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Rookie of the Year) – 2007 (shared with Jordan Staal)
- World Championships All-Star Team – 2007
- NHL All-Star Game – 2008, 2009 (starter)
- NHL First Star of the Month – February 2008
- NHL First All-Star Team – 2008, 2009
- Hart Memorial Trophy nomination – 2008, 2009
- Pittsburgh Penguins’ Most Valuable Player – 2008, 2009
- Art Ross Trophy – 2008–09 NHL season
- 2009 Stanley Cup Champion 
- Conn Smythe Trophy – 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs
- First player since 1917–18 to score goals in each of his first six NHL games (first accomplished by Joe Malone, Newsy Lalonde and Cy Denneny in inaugural NHL season) (Oct 18 – Nov 01, 2006)
- Longest point streak by a Russian player in the NHL – 15 games (accomplished twice) (surpassed Dmitri Kvartalnov of the Boston Bruins – 14 games in 1992)
- Most consecutive post season games with multiple points for the Pittsburgh Penguins – 6 games (May 9 – May 23, 2009)
- First Russian player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (2009)