When the Washington Capitals drafted Beck Malenstyn in the fifth-round of the 2016 NHL draft, they knew they were getting a guy who wasn’t known for his offensive capabilities, but rather a player who was a pain in the butt to play against.
Fast forward seven years later and now the scrappy winger is a favorite to make the opening night roster and be a regular contributor in the lineup.
Malenstyn has never been the most skilled player, but rather a hard-nosed, grinder type forward who is hard on pucks and loves to crash the net. That skillset was shown instantly when he made his professional debut in the 2018-19 season with the Hershey Bears.
Though he only put up 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in 74 games, he was an important piece to the Bears’ penalty kill and was relied upon as a leader.
The 25-year-old eventually made his NHL debut on Nov. 20, 2019, against the New York Rangers. He did not register a point and would only play in two more NHL games before returning to the AHL. When Malenstyn got sent down, he was suspended three games for elbowing against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and then missed 10 games due to an injury.
Malenstyn finished the season with 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 46 games.
In 2020, Malenstyn tore his Achilles’ in an off-ice training session, which forced him to miss the shortened 2020-21 season. When he returned the following year, he set career highs with 10 goals and 16 points in 65 games.
The 6-foot-2 forward also saw 12 games of NHL action and scored his first NHL goal against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 30, 2021. In the 2022 off-season, he signed a two-year, $1.5 million extension with Washington.
Add another one to the ‘first NHL goal’ tally for the Caps this season! pic.twitter.com/afrHvNhqri
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 1, 2021
The White Rock, BC, native continued to get better and had his best season as a pro in 2022-23. Not in terms of numbers, but rather experience and having a bigger impact. Malenstyn played nine games with the Capitals and started to settle in very nicely on the Caps’ fourth line. He scored another goal and even added an assist to his NHL point total.
Things were looking up for Malenstyn until he broke his left finger on Nov. 1, 2022, against the Vegas Golden Knights. He returned to action in Chocolate Town and had a very strong postseason with eight points (four goals, four assists) in 20 playoff games. He was an important piece to the Bears’ penalty kill and brought physicality to their lineup.
Beck Malenstyn finally breaks the goalie duel and puts the Caps up 1-0! pic.twitter.com/R7oMGE1tbE
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 30, 2022
Heading into his sixth year as a pro, the gritty winger is going to be competing with Joe Snively, Aliaksei Protas and Connor McMichael for a spot on the Caps’ bottom-six. Snively plays a very similar game to Malenstyn but has more offensive upside. Protas is a more polarizing presence with his 6-foot-6 frame, and McMichael has been competing for a roster spot for a couple of years now.
But what makes the former Calgary Hitmen product a great fit on the Caps’ fourth line is he has the perfect makeup of a modern-age, bottom-six forward. He’s always moving his feet, hunting for pucks and bullying the opposition with his physical play.
A strong fourth line for Capitals coach Spencer Carbery could be composed of Malenstyn on the left side, Nic Dowd at center and Nicolas Aube-Kubel on the right.
But regardless of where Malenstyn ends up this season, the organization knows what it is getting from him down the road.
By Jacob Cheris