In terms of impact on the ice - Vladimir Malakhov was barely a Devil. He played in two different seasons for New Jersey, in which he played a little bit over half a season combined. So, what did he do to warrant a post about his career?
Who is Vladimir Malakhov?
Vladimir Malakhov was born on August 30th, 1968, in Sverdlovsk, Russia. He is a defenseman who stands at 6’4”, 227 pounds. As with most Russian prospects, he started off his career in the Russian League, where he played for Moscow Spartak and CSKA Moscow, before getting drafted in the 10th round of the 1989 draft by the New York Islanders. He spent a few more years in Russia, before joining the Islanders for the 1992-1993 NHL season.
Malakhov was an instant star, recording 14 goals and 38 assists in his rookie season with the Islanders. He was even better in his sophomore season, recording 10 goals and 47 assists, before getting traded in a deal for Craig Darby, Kirk Muller, and Mathieu Schneider.
Malakhov spend the next six years of his career with Montreal, where he recorded 42 goals and 99 assists, continuing to make a name for himself in the NHL. In the middle of the 1999 season, he was swapped to the New Jersey Devils for young defenseman Sheldon Souray, and would start his Devils career.
The First Go
With the Devils preparing for a Stanley Cup run, they decided to invest in Malakhov, who was an instant success.
Easily the best on-ice addition the team made, though, was the addition of Vladimir Malakhov. The 31-year-old defenseman was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens. He only managed to play 17 games and scored five points before the regular season ended. In the playoffs, he matched his five points in 23 games. He was not a star player by any means but was the best that New Jersey brought in during the campaign. He helped solidify the defensive corps for the long grind to Lord Stanley.
Malakhov was awesome with the New Jersey Devils. While not recording superstar numbers like he did earlier in his career, Malakhov offered additional stability to the backline, and helped the Devils to the forefront of glory: a Stanley Cup victory. A midseason addition that helped a lot, Malakhov would always sit fondly in the memories of Devils fans....
Until his 2nd stint.
The Intermission: Where Malakhov Went Next
Immediately after his time with the Devils, Malakhov made himself hated by Devils fans by signing with the New York Rangers for 4 years, at 3.5 million dollars a year. Luckily for Devils fans, Malakhov was merely alright. He didn’t put up gaudy offensive numbers like he had earlier in his career, as his high in points for the Rangers was 28, and he was eventually traded to another Devils rival, the Philadelphia Flyer, for prospect Rick Kozak and a 2nd round pick.
He ultimately played 6 regular season games with the Flyers, including a failed playoff run, before deciding to sign with the Devils a 2nd time.
The Very Brief, Very Quick, Forgettable Return
After his quick stint with the Flyers, Malakhov signed with the Devils for two years, at 3.6 million dollars a year. He played 29 games with the Devils, recording 9 points, before.... disappearing. On December 19th, 2005, Malakhov left the team, with his agent claiming personal leave. Big Lou Lamoriello refuted this statement, claiming that Malakhov had retired.
According to Lamoriello, the lanky Russian defender had made his decision on the flight back to New Jersey after Saturday’s 4-1 loss in Carolina.
.... A strange incident indeed. Because of this strange twist, the Devils were unable to get Malakhov’s contract of the books, and his career ended after that. Even more unfortunately for the Devils, they had to unload a first round pick to the Sharks, in order to get Malakhov’s contract off the books. This pick would later become David Perron.
Where is Malakhov now?
Currently, Malakhov is a Player Development coach for the New York Islanders, hurting the Devils to this day.
All in all, Malakhov is an interesting part of Devils history. The first Russian Devil to leave his team mid-season, Malakhov has done a lot for a player who only played 46 games with the team overall.