When Evgeni Malkin returns to Pittsburgh this week, it won't take a clandestine escape from a Finnish locker room to get him there.

Unlike in 2006, Malkin will be returning to a league he left as reigning MVP and scoring champion. If his half-season stint in the KHL is any indication, he'll be a heavy favorite to defend his titles in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Malkin was good in the KHL. Very good. He returned to Metallurg Magnitogorsk, his hometown team, the moment the NHL lockout went official September 15 of last year.

Malkin fared well in his return to Russia, posting near-league leading numbers for high-scoring Magnitogorsk. He led the KHL with 42 assists and was second in goals (23) and points (65) to only his linemate, Sergei Mozyakin (30G, 68 points). You can view his total KHL stats breakdown here.