NHL buyout window starts as soon as Cup final ends and runs to July 1. #Canucks will not be buying out final year of Malhotra’s contract.
— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) June 11, 2012
Amidst the hubbub caused by Craig MacTavish’s departure from Chicago, his quick turnaround (his new position in Edmonton was announced literally minutes later) and the romancing of Scott Arniel; Brad Ziemer broke the news that defensive centre Manny Malhotra will be back next year to play out the final year of his deal.
Realistically, no one expected Manny Malhotra – a character guy who rushed back to re-join the team for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, despite nearly losing one of his eyes in a freak hockey accident only three months earlier – to be bought out. But, when you look at the numbers, it certainly would have made a lot of sense.
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After all, Malhotra hasn’t been the same, dominant two-way force since suffering his eye injury. That the Canucks front office types felt the need to add Samme Pahlsson at the deadline tells you all you need to know about what they think of relying on Malhotra in a top-nine role.
Still, Malhotra remains useful. He takes the bulk of Vancouver’s defensive zone draws, and logs major short-handed minutes as the team’s penalty-killing ace – but at this point he’s a well compensated specialist. With a cap-hit of 2.5 million per year, Malhotra could have understandably been deemed an unnecessary luxury item for a Canucks team that is rapidly brushing up against the cap.
That Manny will return next season, almost certainly in a fourth line role, speaks volumes about what the Canucks think of the bottom-six centre offerings on the open market this summer. It’s also another testament to Mike Gillis’ loyalty to "his guys", something that has already begun to define this offseason. Alain Vigneault, who has been criticized harshly in the wake of the team’s inability to get over the hump in the playoffs will stay, Malhotra will stay too, Scott Arniel looks likely be given a second coaching life by the organization.
Next up? A likely to be controversial decision on whether or not to extend Mason Raymond a qualifying offer.