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Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Why it could be different this time between the Maple Leafs and Denis Malgin

Denis Malgin will be back in the Maple Leafs organization come October and hopefully things can work this time around.

There are many opinions out there when you look back at the trade that sent Mason Marchment to the Florida Panthers in exchange for the Swiss-born player. While Marchment tore up the NHL — scoring 57 points in 87 games — Malgin was back at home dominating the Swiss league.

The 25-year-old led ZSC Lions in scoring with 52 points in 48 games this past season and did just as good during international competition where he had 13 points in 13 games between the Olympics and World Championships.

Now, he has a new test — going all in and returning to the NHL to make the Maple Leafs out of training camp.

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“I’ve grown as a player in the meantime, and I’ve developed in all areas. On and off the ice.” Said Malgin in an article with a European news website. “I have more experience and that will certainly help me further.”

This will be the second go around between Malgin and the Maple Leafs. If you remember back to when he was traded to Toronto, he only played eight games but didn’t register a point with the team before the pandemic shut everything down.

Malgin did return for the playoff bubble though he never made it into the lineup against Columbus. But now with a return in sight, how can he make the best of it?

First comes training camp which is going to be a whole challenge in itself. The Maple Leafs already have three clear right wingers in Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Calle Jarnkrok, so the fourth line looks like his best bet to make the team.

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Even there, it’s going to be a challenge for the 25-year-old. With all three spots likely up for grabs, Malgin could work on either the right side or at centre. But he’ll be taking on the likes of Wayne Simmonds, Alex Steeves, Bobby McMann, Joey Anderson, Adam Gaudette, Pontus Holmberg, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

It’s a long list of players vying for a fourth line role.

Remember, though, that Malgin has more NHL experience than just about everyone I just listed, except for Simmonds and Gaudette. He’s played 192 NHL games — all of which of which but eight with the Florida Panthers where Malgin totaled 60 points.

The 25-year-old has a unique opportunity to return to the NHL and impress a lot of people, especially the Maple Leafs. Although he’s shorter at five-foot-nine, Malgin plays like he’s much bigger. Being strong on the puck helps him make up for the size advantage that plenty of his opponents have.

Over the course of the last two seasons in Switzerland, Malgin has improved his shot. Adding that to the other strong qualities he possesses, such as skating and playmaking — there’s a lot to like in his return back to the NHL.

A fourth line role, though, especially for a smaller forward like him is going to be difficult. He’s going to be put to the test a lot during both training camp and throughout the season. The key for Malgin will be for him to handle it accordingly while also being a depth scorer — something Toronto needed most last year.

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If he’s able to do that, the Maple Leafs will be incredibly lucky to have him. If not, well, Malgin doesn’t think like that.

“I approach things with positive feelings, I know what’s expected of me, I’m ready and I’m happy,” said the 25-year-old to the European news website. “I hadn’t thought that far.”

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