Does Prospect Denis Malgin Have NHL Potential?

Team: ZSC Lions/GCK Lions – Swiss National League A/B

Date of Birth: 01/18/1997

Place of Birth: Olten, Switzerland

Ht: 5’ 9″     Wt: 176 lbs

Position: C

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015

NHL CS final rankings: 20 EU skaters

Future Considerations: 63

Denis Malgin’s hockey career was carved in stone early. The Malgins are a very sporting family. His mother was a figure skater as well as a track and field athlete in the Soviet Union. His Russian father Albert Malgin was a center in the second highest Swiss league before taking on different coaching jobs in the same league. His older brother Dmitri Malgin is currently playing in the league also.

Denis was born in Switzerland and together with his mother he moved to Zurich where he joined the best Swiss youth academy, the Zurich Lions. This season was his break out year. He started the season with Zurich’s farm team in the second league but Lions Coach Marc Crawford recalled him and he played his first games in the highest professional Swiss league. Malgin was called up and sent down a number of times and by the end of the season he managed to play in 23 Swiss National League A games and collecting 8 points while he had 18 games in the playoffs and scored 6 points. Over Christmas he joined the Swiss U20 team to play the World Juniors and later in the season he captained the hosts at the U18.

Malgin staying in Switzerland next season

He is listed 20th in NHL Central’s final EU rankings and Future Considerations has him at 63rd in their rankings. He was selected 12th overall in last years KHL draft and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies picked him 26th overall in the CHL Import Draft but he has decided to stay in Switzerland for now. He won’t join the Huskies next season, although their General Manger Gilles Bouchard recently stated in a Canadian Newspaper that they will keep the door open for Malgin if he would decide to join Rouyn-Noranda later on. Malgin says he decided to stay in Zurich because of his gut feeling. Maybe the fact that Zurich promised him games with the first team this season had an impact on him as well. Even if he decided against North America now, he made it clear that playing in the NHL is his biggest dream.

So far, last season’s success indicates it was the right decision to stay in Zurich. Malgin had good games and showed flashes of his amazing puckhandling skills and talent against competitive professional players. He played in all the playoff games and former NHL coach Marc Crawford gave him a lot of confidence. He even saw ice time on the powerplay, something not every European draft eligible player can say about himself.

Based on his potential, he could be considered a first rounder, maybe early second. But his biggest flaw is his size. He is listed at only 5’9 and 176 lbs. This is the reason some draft projections have him listed as a third or fourth rounder. Although he lacks size, scouts like the determination that a small forward needs to have in order to succeed. He works very hard and is willing to battle against bigger opponents.

What’s next for Malgin?

With his decision to stay in Switzerland and not join Rouyn-Noranda, you can start the discussions which road leads faster to the NHL. The fact is that if he is good enough to make any NHL team, both career paths work out. But given his lack of size it most certainly would give him an advantage if he moves over to play in the QMJHL to adjust to the North American style of game. It would also send the proper message out to any potential drafting team and underline his willingness to play in North America. However, he decided to stay in Zurich for the upcoming season, at least for now. These days Malgin is preparing for the draft and studies English. He is projected to have a great career in the Swiss League and has the potential to be a franchise player but whether he will ever play in the NHL is very questionable. He has still a lot of work ahead of him and needs to add some extra muscles if he wants to make a serious push to make the NHL.


Malgin is a very skilled playmaker with great vision for his linemates and excellent puck control skills. He has an accurate pass and likes to use it to setup plays and create scoring chances, which is his biggest asset. He sees the ice very well and finds lanes. Often he prefers the pass over a shot, though his wrist shot shows good accuracy. Malgin has quick acceleration and explodes in his first strides to hit top speed in only three to four strides. Often he moves smoothly within the offensive zone without getting noticed by the opponent defencemen. He always seems to make the right decision and shows great hockey IQ. In his own zone he plays a responsible role and backchecks well.

2015 NHL Draft projection:

As mentioned above he has the potential and tools to be a first rounder but due to his lack of size he will probably drop to the third or fourth round. He had a good U18 tournament and was the best Swiss player leading the hosts into the bronze medal game. He showed scouts that he is able to compete against bigger opponents. This will increase his chances in the draft and maybe lead to an early third round selection.

Future outlook:

He is looking to take on a more dominant role with the Zurich Lions in the next season. Coach Crawford will continue to give him big minutes and he will develop his play further, especially in the physical department where he needs to bulk up. Depending on the team he is picked by and their ideas/wishes, it could be he will join their AHL affiliate after his season in Switzerland. He is projected to make his first national team exhibition games next season.

NHL Player comparison:

David Desharnais

More on Denis Malgin:

TSN’s Draft Profile

Frozen Futures looks at some Swiss prospects

Malgin leading promising group of Swiss prospects