Swiss forward Denis Malgin is departing the NHL for his home country for the second and likely final time. The 26-year-old unrestricted free agent signed a five-year deal with NL club ZSC Lions today, keeping him overseas through 2027-28 and through his age 31 season.
Malgin split last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche thanks to a mid-season trade. After recording career-highs with 13 goals and 65 games played last year, though, the Avalanche did not issue him a qualifying offer, making him a UFA.
Oddly enough, Malgin recently walked away from a multi-year commitment he signed with ZSC in 2021. After spending the 2020-21 campaign on loan to Swiss club Lausanne from the Maple Leafs, Malgin signed a four-year deal with ZSC that offseason and was one of the best players in the league in the first year of the deal, recording 52 points in 48 games. He walked away from the remaining three years to rejoin the Maple Leafs last summer, who retained his rights with a qualifying offer in 2021.
It seems unlikely he’d terminate with the same club twice, however, especially after one NHL comeback that, while successful, obviously didn’t translate to any offers on the open market that he was interested in. The fourth-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2015 will return to ZSC on a team stacked with former NHL forwards such as Sven Andrighetto, Rudolfs Balcers, Jesper Froden, and Juho Lammikko, although he’s the biggest fish of the bunch.
If it is the end of the road for Malgin in the NHL, he wraps up his career with 41 goals, 40 assists, 81 points, and a -16 rating in 257 games split between the Panthers, Maple Leafs, and Avalanche.