Many Penguins fans were bitterly disappointed when Sid the Kid crushed his ankle against the boards in January, thinking that there team would struggle without its captain. However, since Sid’s injury, the Pens have hardly skipped a beat! They have won nine of the 16 games played since then, including games against both New Jersey and Montreal, two teams who are doing rather well lately.

How did they manage this without their franchise player you say? Well they simply let franchise player b step up and saying that he rose to the challenge would be an understatement. Yes, Evgeni Malkin has really come into his own lately. The young Russian is at top of the standings right now, 82 points in 62 games played. I guess sophomore jinx are not words that Malkin has learned since moving to Pittsburgh! In the Penguins last 16 games, Malkin has scored 30 points. No wonder they haven’t suffered too much from the loss of the Kid.

From the hobby’s point of view, Malkin’s splendid form has also had an impact on the value of his cards. I traded a game used card of his 3 months ago and its book value was $20; it now stand at $25, not too bad in 3 months. (It’s a good thing I am not into collecting strictly for the money because that probably wasn’t my smartest move).

From the moment he came to the league, Malkin has been in Crosby’s shadow, whatever he has done people have not really noticed because not only is Sid playing well but the league is promoting him like crazy. The Kid has been featured in several television adverts, he is the face of the league, he is on magazines, and closer to us on several hockey cards boxes. Let’s face it, Crosby has had the limelight, and it seems to me that his injury, however unfortunate, can also be seen as a break for Malkin.

What does the future hold for the young Pens though? Sid will shortly be back, and is Evgeni going to be able to hold his place and carry on putting up the big numbers we have seen lately? One thing is for sure all systems are go in Pittsburgh, as the trade deadline just passed the Pens have managed to acquire Marian Hossa, no small feat but again a big impact player, will he fit in? Will his presence upset the chemistry? The Penguins are currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and things are going well for them, not only because of Malkin’s numbers lately but because of the entire team’s play. This huge trade could be a bit of a gamble, however, if he really hits it off with the rest of the team who knows how far the Pens will be able to go in the playoffs! Every fan in Pittsburgh must be dreaming right now…

Sooner or later though, everyone will get a reality check when Hossa’s contract runs out and Malkin also needs to be resigned next year…the reality of the salary cap will hit and it will hit hard. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that with the skills Malkin has and with the form he has displayed lately, I’d make sure I am able to keep him!