Vancouver’s UFA’s in 2013 – Part 2
Hey everyone, hope you enjoyed part 1 of our look ahead series on Alex Edler. Today in part two we take a look down the middle of the ice. It’s not the Canucks deepest position, and depending on how this season goes, it could get a little thinner around July 1st, 2013.
Name: Manny Malhotra
Contract Expires: July 1st, 2013
Current Cap Hit: $2,500,000 (Limited NTC)
At the start of the 2010-2011 off-season I had made my three picks for which UFA’s I wanted Vancouver to snare. Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra and Anton Volchenkov.
At the time it seemed like a sure thing that Hamhuis was a lock and there was nothing to worry about, but I chose Volchenkov as my secondary pick, just incase Hamhuis did sign with someone else.
I had really hoped the Canucks would sign Malhotra though. In what seemed like forever, the Canucks could finally sign a legit checking line centre.
Manny possessed many of the qualities that one looks for in that role. Excellent on face offs, defensively responsible, great penalty killer, a guy who you want out there with under a minute left when defending a lead.
Not too mention, he’s probably one of the best locker room guys around.
Early into the start of free agency, it was announced that the Canucks had signed Manny Malhotra to a 3 year, $7,500,000 contract. I was through the roof, I was so excited, perhaps a little more than one should be for the signing of a 3rd line centre, but I knew that with Malhotra on the third line it would also help guys like Jannik Hansen, which it did.
The addition of Raffi Torres in august made that Vancouver 3rd line one of the best checking line combo’s in the league.
With the good, comes the bad
Manny’s ability to be a defensive specialist earned him early consideration for the Selke Trophy. At the mid point of the season, he was considered a front-runner for the award.
He was also credited with allowing the team to utilize Ryan Kesler in a more offensive role; as a result of that, Kesler had a break out season and recorded career highs in goals with 41.
Unfortunately for the Vancouver Canucks and more so for Manny, he was dealt a very unfortunate and devastating blow. On March 16th, 2011 during a game against the Colorado Avalanche, a deflected puck caught Manny above the right eye.
He would go on to miss the remaining 10 games of the regular season, as well as the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Manny was dealt a very unfortunate and devastating blow on March 16th, 2011. He hasn’t been the same since.
However, he was able to return in time to play in the last six games of the Stanley Cup final.
Struggling moving forward
Manny’s first year back wasn’t his best. Though it appeared the coaching staff was willing to take their time and be patient with Malhotra, the lack of off-season training due to surgical procedures took it’s toll and reduced the physical play from his game.
While he was still relied on for his face-off ability and penalty kills, Manny played only 78 games, where he was a healthy scratch for two.
His ice time went down and he was playing on the 4th line rather than the 3rd.
2013 Free Agency
The Canucks are in an interesting position with Malhotra.
He’s well liked by his teammates, the coaching staff and by management, which is why the Canucks could offer him another contract.
I don’t think he will receive the term or money he got on his first deal with Vancouver, but it wouldn’t hurt to have him around to mentor a player the Canucks see as a great third line centre in Alex Friesen.
Life without Malhotra
I don’t think that’s something fans have to worry about at this point.
In my opinion, I think Manny will be back with the team. However, that might depend on how this coming season goes.
That, of course will be dictated by how this off season has gone for him, is he able to bring his game back up to the level it was prior to this eye injury?
Can he regain that physical side of his game?
If he can, then I don’t see why they wouldn’t bring him back.
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© Mitch Dyck for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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