Evgeni Malkin took home the top honors among the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week, after scoring six goals and eight points in just three games. Malkin is turning it on at the right time for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who now find themselves in a Metropolitan playoff spot for the time being.
Amazingly, goaltender Harri Sateri garnered the second star of the week after stopping 88 of 93 shots in his three starts. For the Florida Panthers, who’ve dealt with injuries to Roberto Luongo and James Reimer all season, Sateri’s emergence has been a welcome sight. Not so is the third star, Reilly Smith, who the Panthers sent to the Vegas Golden Knights in the offseason only to see him come into his own offensively. Smith had five points in four games last week and needs just ten more to match his career-high of 51. The 26-year old is a whopping +25 on the season, trailing only teammate William Karlsson (+28) and Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (+27) for the league lead.
- In Montreal, Tomas Plekanec remains one of the interesting players to watch for the Canadiens as he heads towards unrestricted free agency at the end of the year. In a frustrated column for Sportsnet, Eric Engels writes that Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin should be shown the door if he doesn’t trade Plekanec for something at the upcoming deadline. Engels doesn’t totally disagree with the idea of bringing Plekanec back next season, but posits that the team absolutely has to get an asset out of his expiring deal this year. Vegas, Tampa Bay, Columbus, and San Jose are all examined as potential landing spots for the 35-year old center, who has seen his offensive production fall off a cliff in recent years. Plekanec has also been linked to the Pittsburgh Penguins as an ideal fit for their third line.
- One veteran center with a more certain future than Plekanec is 11-year NHL veteran Max Talbot, who is now playing overseas with the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Talbot isn’t making an NHL comeback, but he isn’t retiring either. Talbot has earned a one-year extension from Lokomotiv, the KHL announced today. Talbot has served as an alternate captain for Yaroslavl for two years now and had the best offensive season of his career – NHL or otherwise – last season and has shown no sign of slowing down. While the reliable two-way forward won’t be suiting up for Team Canada at the Olympics, he remains one of the best North American skaters not playing in the NHL and Lokomotiv was wise to retain the services of their experienced import.