With all the talk about NHL Free Agency, Vancity Buzz takes a look at who the Canucks have eligible for free agency next year. This short series continues today with centre Manny Malhotra
Current Cap Hit: $2,500,000
Previous Seasons Stats:
2010 (SJS) – 71 GP/14 Goals/19 Assists
2011 – 72 GP/11 Goals/19 Assists
2012 – 78 GP/7 Goals/11 Assists
Considering it was a serious question at one point whether or not Malhotra would even play hockey again after suffering a horrific eye injury, it’s quite the accomplishment for him to have played last season. That being said, the drop off in his statistics has to be of concern. From the decrease in points production to the drop in faceoff percentage (61.7% to 58.5%, still a great number), perhaps the most concerning was Malhotra’s -11 rating, the worst in his eleven year career.
The 2012-2013 year will be a big one. If he can prove the damaged eye won’t affect him long term and can rebound and have a better year, he’ll likely earn himself a new deal. When he’s at the top of his game he is an asset and his skill in the circle is unparalleled, a trump card the Canucks can use when they need it most. Should he have another sub-par year however, it will be up for debate on whether or not he should stick around, and if he does, it most likely will be at a reduced rate.
Prediction: Two year deal with a cap hit around 2.5 million
If there’s a lockout: Depending on how much Brendan Gaunce progresses in the next year, it’s likely that Vancouver opts to keep Malhotra for at least a year to provide some cover at the centre position. Gaunce’s arrival to the starting line-up however will likely spell the end for Malhotra.