Why it's time to acknowledge Evgeni Malkin as an all-time NHL great

Malkin has spent his career overshadowed by two generational talents. But that doesn't mean he can't be recognized as one of the greatest players who ever lived.
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It was positively poetic to see Evgeni Malkin record career point No. 1,000 on the same night – in the same game – Alex Ovechkin notched No. 1,200 and earned an embrace from Sidney Crosby for it. No matter what Malkin seems to accomplish, it happens under the gargantuan shadow cast by two generational talents.

Malkin must understand what it felt like to be Dale Hawerchuk, who piled up 100-point seasons in the 1980s while Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux ruled the universe. Hawerchuk ripped off 752 points across 559 games in his first seven seasons – and walked away with one second-team all-star nod, while his Calder Trophy was an award Lemieux and Gretzky were obviously not eligible to win in 1981-82.

And yet, comparing Malkin to the Hall of Famer Hawerchuk doesn’t even do Malkin justice. He’s not just an elite player dwarfed by two legends. Malkin is one of the greatest players in NHL history. We spend oodles of ink describing the accomplishments of Crosby and Ovechkin, and they deserve all the praise they get, but let’s shed some light on career Pittsburgh Penguin ‘Geno’ today in honor of his 1,000th point.

Malkin won the Calder Trophy with 85 points in 2006-07. The New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal equalled that point total last year in four more games than Malkin did, and its stands as the most recorded by any rookie in the past 12 seasons – soon to be 13, as injuries will keep the Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson from getting there.

Malkin is one of 13 centers in NHL history with three first-team all-star selections. The other 12 are all Hall of Famers. The only pivots with more first-team nods than Malkin are Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby, Stan Mikita, Phil Esposito, Jean Beliveau and Bill Cowley.

Malkin is one of 15 players in NHL history with multiple scoring titles. He, Crosby and Connor McDavid are the only players to win the Art Ross multiple times during the salary-cap era. Malkin’s MVP-winning 2011-12 campaign, which included a league-best 109 points in 75 games, rates as one of the greatest individual efforts ever when factoring in the league’s low per-game scoring rate at the time. If we use hockey-reference.com’s era adjustments, Malkin’s total that year jumps to 122. That would tie him with Crosby’s 2006-07 and Ovechkin’s 2007-8 as the top adjusted point total of the past 18 years, though Nikita Kucherov’s current pace has him in hot pursuit, projected to 121 adjusted points.

Despite playing in a relatively low-scoring era, Malkin boasts a career points per game of 1.179, slotting 14thall-time, one spot below his buddy Hawerchuk. Theoretically, Malkin will slip a bit in the ranks as he ages, but he’s likely to end his career in the top 25.

And what about playoff Malkin, the three-time Stanley Cup champ? The 36 points he collected in his Conn Smythe Trophy-winning 2008-09 crusade stand as the highest total of the past 24 post-seasons. It’s the seventh-best number of all-time, and the totals above it belong to prime-era Gretzky and Lemieux (with one Paul Coffey output mixed in).

Quick: name all the players who’ve won a regular-season and playoff MVP. The list is a dozen names long: Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby, Ovechkin, Beliveau, Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Joe Sakic, Bryan Trottier, Mark Messier, Patrick Kane and Malkin.

Now let’s shorten the list to guys with a Hart, a Conn Smythe and an Art Ross. It’s 10 names long: Gretzky, Lemieux, Crosby, Ovechkin, Beliveau, Orr, Lafleur, Trottier, Kane and Malkin.

How about guys with a Hart, Conn Smythe, Art Ross and three or more Stanley Cups? It’s down to seven : Gretzky, Crosby, Beliveau, Lafleur, Trottier, Kane and Malkin.

One more! Guys with a Hart, Conn Smythe, Art Ross, three or more Cups and a Calder Trophy. We get Trottier, Kane and Malkin. Three players.

Take a minute to process all these accomplishments from Geno. Now remember that the NHL LEFT MALKIN OFF THE LIST FOR TOP 100 PLAYERS OF ALL-TIME in 2017. It’s time to acknowledge Malkin not just as a superstar, but as an all-time great.

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