Nov 022010
 

[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and answers them in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]

A day late but still entertaining, Katie responds to your questions on Bobby Lou’s first shutout of the season, Kirk McLean’s induction to the Canucks’ Ring of Honour, volunteering at Canuck Place, and Canucks movies, costumes, and goal songs.

Stephanie (@axeguitar) asks: What do you think of the Canucks’ current goal song? If it were to change, what would you pick? And what movies would represent each Canuck player? Sedins, Lu, Kes, Burrows, etc?

Katie: The Green Day song? I don’t care for it, but it’s not the WORST song in the world. That being said, it could be better and I know a lot of fans want a new goal song. Maybe something by Muse, like “Uprising” or “Stockholm Syndrome”.

Some Canucks movies:

  • The Sedins – Twins (Arnold & DeVito)
  • Luongo – The Italian (foreign flick)
  • Kesler – The American (Clooney)
  • Burrows – The Comeback Kid (1980)

Simon asks: Why does Kirk McLean get on the Ring of Honour? What did he ever do?

Katie: This, people, is coming from a Leafs fan. Should I bother answering it? Haha sure, the team didn’t win a Cup with McLean, but they got to the Finals with him in net. He was named to two NHL all-star games AND has recently opened a restaurant in Gastown! McLean is one of the most iconic figures in Canucks history, and fans feel like if we can’t retire his jersey, we have to honour him somehow, which is why the Canucks started the Ring of Honour this year.  Let me ask you Leafs fans a question – will Dion Phaneuf be honoured by the Leafs any time soon? Oh wait, he’s been getting booed over there in Toronto. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Al asks: What kind of costumes should the Canucks wear for Halloween?

Katie: Haha, as I posted on Twitter, I thought Salo should have gone as Frankenstein’s monster (for those who know that Frankenstein was the doctor, not the creature), because he has too many replaced parts. Kesler could’ve gone as a giant, cardboard NHL 2K11 game since that’s all he promoted all summer, and Manny Malhotra could have gone as Richard Loat (aka @mozy19) since they’re apparently brothers from another mother.

Mark  (@marktgledhill) asks: Do you feel that Bobby Lou’s first shutout of the year will help the team to play better in front of him?

Katie: You know it’s officially November when Luongo gets a shutout on the first day of the month, especially up against another star goaltender in Martin Brodeur. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory that when Luongo plays well (or any goalie for that matter), the team in front of him plays with more confidence and thus improves the team’s all-around performance. I think, more importantly, Luongo’s shutout will give HIM more confidence, and the kind of boost he needs to raise him to his all-star standards this season. If the Canucks are going to go on a long Cup run, they need Luongo to get into his groove early so that the team is firing on all pistons come April.

Krissy asks: How important do you think is it for the Canucks players to get involved with organizations like Canuck Place?

Katie: I think it’s very important to the community, to the team and to the children of Canuck Place to see the players come by and help carve pumpkins, or decorate, or just visit. The fact that so many Canucks spend a lot of time at Canuck Place shows you what kind of people we have playing for Vancouver, and how lucky we are to have them here. I believe it was Manny Malhotra who said that one of his reasons for choosing Vancouver was the team’s commitment to charity, which says a lot about the organization’s priorities and part in the community. I know that I’m proud to be a Canuck fan because of this.

Oct 252010
 

[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and answers them in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]

In this week’s edition of “Ask Katie about the Canucks”, Katie responds to your questions on fan altercations, veteran leadership, secondary scoring, inconsistent play – *ahem Kevin Bieksa ahem* and the Canucks’ goaltending controversy waiting to happen.

Merina asks: Do you think that the NHL should implement a rule where arenas need to build protective barriers between fans and players as they come on and off the ice? Who’s responsible for fan/player issues: the player, the fan or the NHL?

Katie: I don’t think there are enough fan/player altercations in the NHL to enforce some sort of barrier regulation across the league. The Oilers’ arena, Rexall Place, has a large, retractable tube for the away team to get to and from the locker room, but it seems like it’s to protect them from thrown objects more than physical confrontations. Maybe if incidents begin to multiply they should look into it, but even when there is glass, it doesn’t always stop fans (ie. Tie Domi’s incident in the penalty box).

Who’s responsible? I do think that it’s up to the players to act professionally at all times, but that being said, fans who are in the vicinity of the player should also be respectful and/or smart enough to realize that players are still men, and men can have tempers. Just like Manny Malhotra said, I believe that once fans make any physical contact with a player FIRST, they have made themselves a part of the game. It should be common sense for both parties, and I don’t think the NHL has anything to do with individual actions.

Mark (@marktgledhill) asks: Do you think that the Canucks’ secondary scoring everyone is worried about is really such a big deal as it’s made out to be?

Katie: It’s still early and some players have yet to find their hands, to be honest. I’m not worried about it. Kesler now has two goals and we will see him start to take off from this point on, and Mason is slowly finding his groove again. Vigneault keeps juggling the lines, so I’m not sure who will fill in a permanent position with those two. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s rather early for anyone to be panicking about, well – about anything, really. LOL.

Alia asks: why are the Canucks taking so many dumb penalties?

Katie: Two words: Kevin Bieksa

Michael (@rethcork) asks: Are there any trades that the Canucks could make that might “help” the team win?

Katie: See answer to above question.

Mike asks: The Canucks finally have a legitimate backup goalie. With the consistently inconsistent play of Luongo over the past couple seasons, how does management deal with this ‘Goalie Controversy’ that has barely even started to percolate? Do they play the hot hand with the risk of upsetting their keystone player? Giving our backup the nod in consecutive home starts, while leaving our star out to dry on the road, doesn’t seem like the most calculated strategy...

Katie: I don’t think there is much of a “goalie controversy” except among bandwagon fans or those who dislike Luongo. Everyone knows Luongo is the starter goalie, he’s making $10 mill this year, and Schneider is being trained to BECOME a starting goalie (not Vancouver’s). We also know it’s early and that Lu starts slow. That being said, Luongo’s had two bad games, but he also didn’t have the offence that Schneider had in his two starts. In both Schneider’s game the team had 5 or 6 goals each. Luongo had three as a total in both of his bad games. How can a team win with no goals? (That takes me back to our 2006 problem).

Do they play Schneider (the hot hand) over Luongo? No. As Vigneault said last week, Luongo is still their starter and is one of the best in the NHL and they’re standing by him.

Devon asks:  Vancouver fans always have high expectations. This year we are looking deeper than ever. Are we missing anything or should we stay pat because Burrows will be back soon?

Katie: The Canucks do have what it takes to go all the way this year in terms of their roster. When our injured players come back, fans will see there isn’t much to worry about. Vigneault is still trying to find the right lines (as he always seems to be doing with his incessant juggling), and the young guns are still finding their wheels. Once lines are chosen and chemistry is built, the team will be great. Luongo will return to his all-star form and for once we’ll have a back-up goalie we can trust to fill in. The only thing that’s missing is shoot-out practice, which takes me to another thing that’s missing — good coaching, but that’s another story…

Andrew asks: Malholtra seems to be growing into his leadership role very smoothly. Having to already overcome obstacles inside the locker room and on the ice, and also being very comfortable in front of the camera after every game do you see the choice of Henrik giving Malholtra an “A”, a decision that will have a big impact on him and the team throughout the whole season?

Katie: I think it was an excellent idea, and great insight on Henrik’s part, to give Malhotra an A right off the bat. It says a lot for what other veteran players think of Malhotra, despite being new to the roster, and thus probably gave Malhotra a boost of confidence to start the season.

As a veteran, player and leader, Manny’s going to be a big part of the team’s success this season. He has immediately grown into a fan favourite, which isn’t typical this quickly for a new player on the Canucks, and says a lot for Vancouver. His face-off success is absolutely mind blowing and very important to the team’s play on the ice, and he’s really coming into his scoring, even on the third line. Getting Malhotra was the best move Gillis made in the off season. He deserves the A, and additions like him are another reason why the Canucks are surrounded by Cup buzz.

I’d like to say that this week’s “Ask Katie” has been very impressive in terms of intelligent, well-thought-out questions. Thanks, Canucks fans, for reinforcing the NHL players’ poll that named Canucks fans the most knowledgeable in the NHL. Great questions! – K.M.

Oct 252010
 
  • Finally the offence really shined. Hank and Danny got on the score sheet again but so did almost everyone else! Bellini looked confident playing with the Sedins and scored a goal. Manny Malhotra scored 2 goals and had an assist (bad ass). Jannik Hansen had 2 assists and was noticeable every time he was on the ice. The 2nd line finally gelled and had a goal and an assist. Even Andrew Alberts and Cory Schneider had a point!
  • Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff were very solid. Ehrhoff was a +5! And he didn’t have one point! He’s not called the Hoff for nothing. The Bieksa and Parent pairing only had me wincing a couple of times. Alberts is a completely different defenceman this year. I guess that’s what happens when you get comfortable with a new team and city.
  • Raffi Torres scored his 100th point and I got to sing Baby Beluga
  • Cory Schneider was very solid again. I really enjoy watching him in net. He’s so damn mellow and I don’t freak out when he goes to play the puck. His stats are quite sparkling. There are going to be whispers of ‘Goalie Controversy’ on the wind which is silly. I’m not totally sold on Luongo but he’s the Canucks stallion for better or worse. TWELVE YEARS is a marriage. Schneider is the scrappy young colt that you trade at auction for several other young colts. Sorry, I got a little too caught up in my horse analogy there.
  • The Wild have a player named Stoner. And he was born in BC. Was there ever a more perfect player for Vancouver? Trade ya, Minnesota!
Oct 222010
 

I still stand by my post about Rypien. He did act like a moron and he did disappoint me as a fan. But Justin Bourne has a really interesting post up on Puck Daddy about fan abuse from a NHL player’s perspective that explores Rypien’s side of things more clearly.

I’ve heard the comparison this week that the NHL is the equivalent of a workplace. And you’re not allowed to grab and be tempted to punch a paying customer in your workplace. A good code of conduct to be sure but the NHL is a very untraditional workplace. Am I going to have someone booing me and swearing at me and making inappropriate comments about my gender identity while I sit there and collate copies? Not so much. You would hope that an incident like this wouldn’t happen but these guys aren’t cyborgs. They lose their cool and do stupid things just like anyone of us would. I hope the Canucks, the NHL, and the Wild can apologize to that fan and everyone can move on without a stupid law suit.

That was an interesting game against the Hawks. It was nice to see how well the Canucks matched up with the Cup champs. But the offensive output is incredibly weak unless your last name is Sedin and the team as a whole looked frustratingly out of sync at times. Vancouver curses even formerly hardy iron man like defencemen to injury (Ballard and Hamhuis). If a defensive pairing of Bieksa and Parent doesn’t have you crying to your mummy while clutching a rum bottle you’re a stronger person than I am.

Luongo was fabulous in regulation and then an absolute disastah in the shootout. WHY does AV never make them practice the damn shootout!?!? Manny Malhotra is a faceoff god. He’s at SIXTY.EIGHT percent for the season! I have a case of Manny Fever. Danny Sedin is such a tasty treat to watch right now. His shootout goal was gasp worthy. He could hit 50 goals at this rate! There are some good signs here. Hopefully with Alex Burrows coming back fairly soon and some defencemen getting healthy the guys will get on a real roll.

[Editor's note: I don't mean to hijack Alix's post, but I do want to add one thing. While I don't condone what Rypien did - and let's be clear that we all think what he did was wrong - it's interesting to read Justin's perspective on this. When I worked at GM Place, I obviously heard fans taunt players from opposing teams. Some were made in the name of good, clean fun; some were vulgar and crude. I heard fans taunt Shawn Kemp about his whores and Chris Pronger about his wife. Once, a fan standing by the players' tunnel even challenged Steve Francis to hit him. (IIRC, his exact words were, "Francis you're a mother f******. You're p**** a** b****. What are you gonna do, hit me? Come on hit me mother f******.") If Kemp, Pronger or Francis had roughed up any of these fans, it would still be wrong. But to be honest, I don't think the fans who yelled and taunted those things would have been completely blameless either. Respect is a two-way street, and paying any amount of money for a ticket doesn't buy the right to treat anyone in a derogatory manner. Again, I'm not blaming the fan the Rypien incident; I'm just saying that some fans, unfortunately, do cross the line. - J.J.]

Oct 212010
 

I’ll be the first to admit that when the Canucks signed Manny Malhotra to his contract, I was not a fan of the terms. 3 years, $2.5 million per year, and a no-trade clause (albeit limited) seemed a little excessive for a guy that I saw simply as Kyle Wellwood’s upgrade. I knew what we could expect from Malhotra after having watched him down in San Jose all season, but then again, I also expected the Canucks juggernaut to be rolling by the time we’d hit the six game mark of the season. So what makes Manny worth his millions? Consistency.

In two games this week, we’ve seen the Canucks go from walking all over the road-weary Carolina Hurricanes at home to getting walked all over by the flu bug-ridden Minnesota Wild on the road. We’ve seen both sides of the spectrum, but only one side from Malhotra. The Canucks needed an upgrade from a dinky, streaky and sometimes under-conditioned Wellwood.

Cue Malhotra.

In his first six games with the Canucks, he’s given us a taste of just why Mike Gillis went after him and offered him as much as he did. In part, it was because his market value was $2.5 million – rumor at the time was that the Sharks offered him $2.1 million – but there’s also a lot more to Malhotra that we’re starting to see.

In the Canucks’ 5-1 romp over the Hurricanes, Malhotra finished 15-1 in the faceoff dot – a beastly faceoff winning percentage of 93.4%. In their dismal road loss against the Wild, he finished 12-4 in the faceoff dot – a very respectable FOW% of 75%. In fact, Malhotra has a FOW% over 70% in four of his first six games with the Canucks. Contrast that to Wellwood, who took 20 games last season before recording four games with 70% or more in the FOW column. Win or lose, he’s been dominant in the dot, helping to win crucial faceoffs at both ends of the ice, on special teams, and at even-strength.

The Canucks’ penalty-kill last year sat in the bottom half of the league. For a team that’s considered a contender, an 18th-ranked PK isn’t good enough. One of the reasons Malhotra was brought on was to be a PK expert. In the Canucks’ first game of the season, they gave up a full two-minute PP to the Kings in OT. Malhotra was on the ice for a full two minutes because the Canucks couldn’t clear the zone; however, the Kings didn’t score. Against the Hurricanes, the Canucks were two men down as the third period was winding down and Malhotra created not one, but two short-handed breakaways. Thus far, Malhotra’s averaging just over 15 minutes of ice-time per game, which is nearly three minutes more than fellow third liners Schaefer and Torres and almost double the ice-time the rest of the bottom-six is getting.

The 30-year old Malhotra has certainly brought his end of the bargain to the ice. He’s got two assists in six games with the Canucks. (Contrast again, Wellwood took 18 games to reach two points last year.) So is Manny worth his millions? He’s showing up night in and night out and doing his part within the Canucks system. Win big or lose big, Malhotra’s game seems to be at it’s peak and he’s one person that can’t be faulted for the Canucks’ slow start to the season.

The Canucks needed that big, multi-faceted bottom-six player who could make an impact and the journeyman center who’s also played with the Blue Jackets, Stars, Rangers and Sharks fits that mould.

Oct 192010
 

Funny how one game can change the mood among Canucks fans.

After Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, you can almost feel the panic rippling through Canucks Nation. You can almost sense it from the team too when they juggled their line combinations. With various players stuck on 0 goals, coach Alain Vigneault lined Mason Raymond up next to the Sedins, promoted Jeff Tambellini to the second line, and demoted Mikael Samuelsson from the first line to the third line.

It worked.

Sunday’s 5-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes was huge on a number of levels. As a team, the Canucks exercised their scoring demons and nearly matched their goals total from the first 4 games combined. Individually, Raymond, Kesler, Samuelsson all broke their goal-less droughts. Andrew Alberts scored too but I’m saving that story for another post.

It’s only one game but it was exactly the kind of game the doctor ordered. (Granted, they did this against a team currently in the middle of a road trip from hell, but given the Canucks’ own yearly travel schedule, it’s hard to feel sympathy for any other team logging a lot of air miles.)

It’s only one game, but it at least stopped Canucks fans from jumping on the Leafs bandwagon.

Let’s hope they can keep it up against a flu-ravaged Minnesota Wild team tonight.

Some pregame reading:

Oct 132010
 

Finally some good news on the Canucks injury front as Rick Rypien is finally ready to make his season debut tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Good timing too, especially with Alex Bolduc suffering a rumored high ankle sprain, Guillaume Desbiens reportedly tweaking his back, and Jeff Tambellini looking out of place on the fourth line.

The Canucks will welcome Rypien’s feistiness. The Ducks haven’t won a game this season – they’ve lost their first 3 games on the road – but lead the NHL in penalty minutes by a large margin. They’ve taken 40 penalties totaling 141 penalty minutes, including a line brawl against the St. Louis Blues on Monday night. (In comparison, the Blues have the second-most PIMs with 88, and the Canucks only have 16 PIMs.)

Needless to say, the Ducks are a frustrated team. I hope the Canucks are ready for a rough one.

Some pregame reading:

Oct 072010
 

[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]

Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Shortly after the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the second round of last year’s playoffs, Mike Gillis said:

“Experience is a major factor,” he said. “We have very few guys that have gone far into the playoffs.

“You need experienced players who have been there, who don’t deviate from the game plan when the pressure is on, and who continue to be patient and play.”

This summer, Gillis retooled the Canucks’ roster. He upgraded the bottom-six and rebuilt the defense. But did he add the leadership and experience he wanted to?

J.J.: Of the four key additions to the Canucks’ roster, only two have gone deep into the playoffs: Manny Malhotra went to the Conference Finals with the San Jose Sharks last season, and Raffi Torres went to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. The two key additions on defense, Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard don’t have significant playoff experience; Hamhuis has never played past the first round, while Ballard has yet to suit up in the postseason.

That said, most of the core has been together for a few years now and they’ve made the second round of the playoffs three of the last four seasons. Lack of leadership and playoff experience should no longer be an issue with this team. As a group, they’ve played enough playoff games now; I just hope that they’ve been able to learn from their losses.

Chris: Has MG brought in veteran leadership? Not sure. Ballard is a decent addition on the blueline, but that’s tempered by the loss of Mitchell. Hamhuis is definitely no rookie, but even in his five seasons in the NHL he still lacks the experience the wily vets usually have (let alone the playoff experience). You can add Malhotra and Torres to the conversation, but I’m not sold that Torres has figured out his own game well enough to provide leadership. All in all, we haven’t really seen much of a net increase.

Katie: With Malhotra I think he did a good job in terms of adding veteran leadership and playoff experience. In fact, I wouldn’t complain if Manny was given an ‘A’ to start the season. Torres also has some playoff experience with the Oilers.

Richard: Mike Gillis didn’t bring in a lot of playoff experience, but I think the team and its core already have enough collective experience. Samuelsson is the only one that has won a Stanley Cup, and I thought he did a good job of providing leadership in last year’s playoffs. Manny Malhotra is a great addition – he’ll mentor the prospects and assist the veterans.

Cam from Canucks Army: Uh, not exactly. There are a grand total of TWO Stanley Cup rings in the dressing room so that speaks for itself. However, the addition of Malhotra does add more veteran leadership. That said, I think both of those things are a bit overrated. Kesler, Henrik, Daniel, Luongo and Hamhuis have plenty of leadership so adding shouldnt have been a huge priority. As for playoff experience, the group in the room already knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. They have to battle their own demons of previous playoff failures and overcome them. To me that would be as strong a motivator as you could possibly have.

Mike from Nucks Misconduct: He did add a couple pieces, but I don’t think it is truly going to matter. Samuelsson is still the standard bearer in terms of playoff experience; the new guys don’t eclipse his 81 playoff appearances and 50 playoff points. Malhotra has two goals in 24 games, Hamhuis has nine points in 28 games, Torres has 15 points in 30 games and Ballard (thanks to being trapped in Florida) has none.

But I do think these guys bring qualities to the team that weren’t there before. Malhotra has been lauded for his strong work ethic from Columbus and San Jose, so hopefully that catches on with others and the same can be said of Torres (in Columbus not to mention his Cup run with Edmonton in 2006). Nashville runs a tight ship and hopefully Hamhuis will infuse part of that system into the backend.

Oct 062010
 

[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]

Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

For far too long, the Canucks have been pretty thin up the middle. When talking about their lineup, it seemed like they’ve always had a decent no. 1 center but lacking a big, physical one. As for depth? Forget about it… unless you want to fondly remember the days of Marc Chouinard and Tommi Santala.

Mike Gillis started addressing the Canucks’ depth at center when he signed Mats Sundin midway through the 2008/2009 season. Say what you want about how much Gillis paid for half a season and couple of playoff rounds of Mats, but he filled a need. He also played the role of mentor for Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler, and both acknowledge that they learned a lot from him.

Now, Henrik is a Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner, and Kesler is a Selke Trophy nominee. Add free agent signee Manny Malhotra this summer and the Canucks have depth at center like we’ve never seen before.

J.J.: Many teams have a pretty good one-two punch up the middle; very few teams have a very good one-two-three punch like the Canucks do. In Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra, you have a group that can play 18-plus minutes per game – Henrik and Kesler usually play more – and play in any situation. Combined, they recorded 220 points (68 G – 152 A) last season; only Pittsburgh’s three-headed monster combined for more (235 points – 100 G – 135 A). Henrik and Kesler won the 9th and 11th most faceoffs in the league, respectively, and Manny won 62.5% of the ones he took. Plus, the Canucks still have Cody Hodgson coming up.

Chris:The Canucks depth up the middle is as good or better to most other NHL teams. But with Morrison not part of that equation, the teams depth beyond the top 3 is somewhat hurting. Bolduc will fill the role on the 4th line to start the season, but doesn’t yet have the pedigree to step up. Rypien is obviously not the second coming of Jeff “Brabarrian” Cowan and after him you’re looking at Joel Perrault who’s not anywhere near ready to perform consistently at the elite NHL level. So what does this all mean? Depth is only as deep as the injury bug is distant.

Cam from Canucks Army: It’s a top 5 group at center. Upgrading from Wellwood to Malhotra was a massive improvement. With the exception of Pittsburgh, its hard to find a more well-balanced group of top 3 centers.

Mike from Nucks Misconduct: It’s definitely a first for the fans. Gone are the days when we longed for a single competent center (remember the early parts of the decade?) much less a few of them. Now no other team can claim the MVP on their top line, a twice-nominated Selke center on the second and the best face-off player on a team which, collectively, was one of the best faceoff teams in over a decade (http://www.behindthenethockey.com/2010/3/30/1383251/best-faceoff-teams-since-1997-98) on the third. Not too shabby. The jury is out on Bolduc, but you’re talking about 5-7 minutes a game for the fourth line anyway (and without Hordichuk, it’s immediately better).

By comparison, look around the rest of the Northwest. Excluding Morrison, three of the four centers for the Flames are injured. Over in Edmonton Horcoff is good, but Gagner and Cogliani are still pretty green; Cogliano’s point totals have decreased the past two seasons too. Even greener are the Avs centers (Stastny, Duchene and O’Reilly). The Wild certainly aren’t bad (Koivu, Cullen, Brodziak, Madden and Bouchard) but I still feels Vancouver’s crop is better and are playing with more talented players, certainly on the top two lines.

Kesler is the key. AV can roll Kesler’s line out for the tough minutes leaving the Sedins to often feast on the weaker lines and pairings of the opposition. The fact Kesler (and his linemates) still produce offensively with those types of zone starts is a testament to their skill.

Oct 052010
 

[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]

Manny Malthora, Vancouver Canucks

After another second round playoff exit to the Chicago Blackhawks, Mike Gillis to-do list included a few things. He wanted to make the Canucks tougher to play against. He wanted to add size to the bottom-six. He wanted to improve the Canucks’ 18th-ranked penalty-kill. He wanted to add players with playoff experience.

Enter Manny Malhotra.

At 6’2″ and 220 lbs., Malhotra is a big upgrade on the third line over Kyle Wellwood. He kills penalties and plays on the powerplay. (He’ll probably do little of the latter, but still, the option is there.) He won 62.5% of his faceoffs. He was a key part of the San Jose Sharks team which made the Western Conference Finals last year.

But all this came at a cost. Malhotra’s contract is worth $7.5 million over 3 years and includes a limited no-trade clause. He most certainly fills a need, but did the Canucks overpay to get him?

Cam from Canucks Army: Canucks fans won’t really know if he’s overpaid until the quarter-pole of the season. That said, then other 3rd line centres like Colby Armstrong went for $3m and more this free-agency season, it’s hard to really complain about getting Malhotra for less than that.

Richard: (Uncle) Manny is going to be great for the Canucks. He has the potential to influence not only the younger players on the team, but guys like Kesler and Henrik. Do I think he was worth his millions? The Sharks were going to offer him a similar amount of money. If that’s the going rate for him these days, so be it. Money aside, he was an excellent pick up by Gillis.

Chris: I’m down with Manny’s expected contribution, but I’m not sold that the money needed to get him couldn’t have been better spent elsewhere. The Canucks will be pressing the upper limits of the cap for most of the season and you have to consider that every dollar more that goes to the third line centre is one less dollar that can be spent on the rest of his line, the fourth line, and the bottom two blueliners. Call me a fence-sitter if you must, but I’m thinking the jury is still out.

J.J.: There’s always concern when GMs shell out big money for role players, but like Cam and Richard said, it sounds like Manny simply signed for his market value. It’s obviously too early to say if he’ll live up to that contact, but I like that Gillis identified a gap, targeted a player he liked, and signed him. Manny’s good at what he does, and what he does is what the Canucks need.

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