CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Denis Malgin already speaks four languages, but the Florida Panthers forward prospect said jokingly this summer he might need to learn Finnish, given the large number of young forwards from Finland in the organization.
Malgin, a native of Switzerland whose parents are Russian, translated for Russian forward prospect Maxim Mamin during an interview session at Panthers development camp. It was a big step for Malgin, whose English has greatly improved since he came over from Europe last year.
It's part of the growing process for Malgin, 20, who is eyeing a bigger role with the Panthers this season after an inconsistent rookie season began with him scoring six goals in three games during the rookie tournament.
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Malgin, a fourth-round pick (No. 102) in the 2015 NHL Draft, rode that strong showing to a spot on the Panthers' opening-night roster. He finished the season with Florida and had 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 47 games, and played 15 games for Springfield of the American Hockey League, where he had 12 points (three goals, nine assists).
"Last year I came over with no English," Malgin said. "Everything was new. Now I'm here and I know everything a little bit and it's easier. The second year, you know what's happening and you know what it is."
Ideally, the Panthers would have liked Malgin (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) to have spent most, if not all, of last season in the AHL. But their hand was forced because of injuries at forward; Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad each began the season on the injured list.
A year later, Malgin figures more prominently into Florida's plans. In fact, he might have an edge for a spot on the third line over some of those Finnish prospects, including Henrik Halaapa, Henrik Borgstrom, Aleksi Heponiemi and Sebastian Repo, along with Mamin.
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"He's a highly skilled individual," Panthers director of player personnel Bryan McCabe said of Malgin. "He maybe played a little faster than we would have liked, but that was out of necessity, not necessarily because we wanted him here. We had a ton of injuries and he's a really skilled player, so he was kind of thrust in the limelight.
"He maybe needed some more seasoning … that's why [he attended development] camp. We're trying to build him back up a little. He had an up-and-down year; we want to make sure his confidence is high when he comes into camp this year."
Malgin had plenty of confidence early last season, when he had four goals and three assists in a nine-game span. But that was followed by 27 games without a point, sandwiched around his month in the AHL.
Malgin was a healthy scratch for the Panthers for most of the last month of the season, but he did score two goals in the final three games.
"It was a good lesson for me," Malgin said. "It was a good experience in the AHL to play there a lot of minutes. Then I got the call-up, and it was amazing. I came again on the team and I think I played very well then again.
"I feel confidence now. I have more confidence than last year. I think that's a good thing."