The Pittsburgh Penguins announced forwards Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bjugstad will both be out “longer-term” with lower-body injuries. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan added Malkin will be out longer than Bjugstad, but neither injury is considered to be “season-threatening.”
Sullivan gave little detail on either injury, but it doesn’t sound like we’ll be seeing Malkin on the ice any time soon. Jared McCann and Dominik Kahun are the most likely candidates to fill in for the two injured centremen. McCann was cenetering Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Tanev on Pittsburgh’s second line in practice on Monday.
Monday’s news is just the latest blow to what’s been an injury-riddled career for Malkin. The 33-year-old centre has missed an average of 16 games a year dating back to the start of the 2012-13 season. Most recently, he missed 14 games last season with a lingering upper-body issue.
The injuries leave Pittsburgh with little to rely on for depth scoring, and puts even more pressure on the top line to produce. Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel have combined for zero goals and four assists through the team’s first two games. Since the start of last season, Pittsburgh is 6-12-5 in games Crosby did not register a point. Depth has always been an issue for this team, and it will be tested now more than ever.