While the NHL currently sits in the doldrums of the off-season, the staff here at LBC has decided to take on a Top 25 Under 25 series. These series are immensely popular on other SBNation websites, and help fans to see where their team's players under the age of 25 stand in comparison with each other.
This is the first year LBC is taking on this type of project, and we hope you enjoy the series.
Let's get down to it.
Birthdate: 01/18/1997 (18)
Acquired: 4th round selection (#102 overall) 2015 NHL Entry Draft
2014-15 Team/League: GC Küsnacht Lions (NLB), ZSC Lions (NLA)
Size: 5'9", 176 pounds
Contract Status: Unsigned (drafted 2015)
It's not often that an 18-year-old skater leads his team in scoring during the IIHF World Junior Championships, but Denis Malgin did just that, posting seven points (1G/6A) in six games for Switzerland during the 2015 WJC in Canada.
Malgin also played among men in Switzerland's top league this year, suiting up for the Zurich Lions of the NLA, and posted eight points (2G/6A) in 23 games.
This type of success in higher divisions usually isn't common among players under 5'10", but Malgin more than makes up for his size with his incredible skill and hockey sense.
From the scouts:
Malgin has an exceptional sense and feel for the game and is really good at keeping defenders on their heels and off balance because he changes speed so effectively. He has very good hands and makes plays in traffic and is comfortable with opponents on his hip because he protects puck so well. Excellent poise and he breaks down opponents to create offence - Craig Button, TSN
A smallish but quick and skilled, instinctive offensive point producer. Creates chances for both he and his line mates and is strong in possession. Has slick hands and likes to dangle the puck if given the space. Sees the ice well and finds open lanes. Always on the move creating time and space. Good acceleration and can hit top speed in just three to four strides. He is shifty due to his size and lower body strength coupled with very slippery agility. Is strong on his skates for his size and balanced making it difficult for opponents to knock him off the puck if they do get a piece of him. Slick in possession as he has the ability to weave through defenders with speed while looking for options and maintaining possession. Not the strongest physical player around but is solid and has that determination that a small forward needs to succeed. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in hard work. Will drive to the net every chance he gets to look for scoring chances, and is offensively savvy. When he sees no other options he does not hesitate to wire the puck off the goalie’s pads just to create a rebound for his teammate in front. Usually opts for his wrist shot that has a quick release and he can easily change the velocity depending on the range and need. Has good battle/compete and a motor that just keeps running. - Future Considerations Draft Guide
Normally, this type of draft pick would just be a toss-up, as sometimes players are able to overcome size, and sometimes they aren't.
With the recent play of smaller forwards such as Tyler Johnson, Johnny Gaudreau, and Brendan Gallagher, however, Malgin's stock is high. At the age of 18, there are still tons of questions marks about his game, but overall, the potential to become a second line player in the NHL is there, and that type of skill just shouldn't be ignored.
Malgin will continue to play for Zurich in 2015-2016, but he'll be playing alongside Auston Matthews, the 2016 Draft eligible prospect who will most likely go first overall. Matthews signed with Zurich over the summer, and as soon as he turns 18 in mid-September, will start playing with the Lions.
If Malgin can improve on his successful 2014-2015 season, the Cats may come calling with a contract. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the undersized Swiss dynamo, but his potential to become a top-six player gets him the 25th spot on our countdown.
Where We Voted for Malgin
Who We Voted 25th
|Mackenzie Weegar||Samuel Montembeault||Josh Brown||Hugo Fagerblom||Michael Downing|
Also, just for fun, here are some prospects that received a limited number of votes, though not enough to make it into the final rankings, along with some of the LBC staff defending why they felt these prospects deserved a spot on the list.
Where We Voted for Bachman:
Why Kevin voted Bachman 17th: One of the speediest players in this summer's draft, Bachman put up 19 goals and 43 points in 32 games as a high school senior with Culver Military Academy. Speed kills in today's NHL and the Indiana native has it in spades. The fifth-rounder is more of a long-range prospect, but the upside and intangibles are there. He just needs to fill out and and adjust to a higher level of competition as he works his way up the ladder, first with Green Bay of the USHL and then at the collegiate level with Miami of Ohio.
Where We Voted for Montembeault:
Why Shane voted Montembeault 21st: Out of all of the team's goalie prospects, Samuel Montembeault is probably the one with the highest ceiling. Sam Brittain and Colin Stevens have shown that they have NHL potential, but Montembeault has shown the potential to be a consistent NHL starter. He's incredibly raw, and still needs lots of work in order to develop, which is why I don't have him ranked in the top 20, but his potential begs for a ranking in the top 25.
Where We Voted for Schemitsch:
Why JC voted Schemitsch 22nd: 6'3", 205 lbs, right-handed defensemen who converted from center who put up 49 points in 68 games last season in the OHL, along with 36 penalty minutes? What's not to like? He was 9th best in scoring for defensemen in the OHL last season, and saw a 32-point jump from his first season with Owen Sound. All this on a team that finished fourth (out of five teams) in the Ontario Hockey League's Midwest division. Combine the fact that he is showing considerable upside potential, is big, has a very good first pass (hence the 35 assists last season), and is still raw, and I like what I see. This will be an early make or break for Thomas- he needs to show another jump in improvement like he did from year one to two in the OHL to show the potential is real. But he has the size, ability, edge, and hockey sense to put it all together.