I figure Malhotra's future with the Canucks will be decided by five things:
1.) As indicated above, what is the level of his performance in the shortened season (and playoffs).
Malhotra's faceoff ability has not dropped off that much from his first season here to last season (61.7% to 58.5%). These faceoffs were usually in the Canucks' own end, so this stat is of great significance.
His point production has dropped off some (30 pts down to 18), but that might be explained by him spending more time on the 4th line than the 3rd, and having linemates like Volpatti and Weise rather than Torres and Hansen (or Higgins and Hansen for theis season).
There have been comments about his checking in two areas. Malhotra's +/- dropped (+9 to -11), but as with his point production, a good amount of this can be likely be attributed to him being on the 4th line and him playing a game which pretty much consisted of gaining possession of the puck, moving it out of the Canucks' zone, and then heading to the bench. This doesn't leave him with many opportunities to get points to off-set those which are scored against him and his line. This being said, for the amount of opportunity the opposition has had to score against him, Malhotra is did pretty well to only be -11.
I have read some opinions that state that Malhotra's physical play was more tentative than what it was in his first season here (pre-injury). This could be the most important factor related to Malhotra's performance. It could be that he was reluctant to engage with opposing players due to his scare from his injury. If he does demonstrate that he is tentative in playing a physical game, this could cause the Canucks to try and low-ball him for a new contract (something like the $1.5 million some are suggesting) or just let him walk.
2.) The performance of guys like Lapierre and Schroeder (assuming he gets a chance to play in Vancouver this season).
They are younger, will likely be less expensive and have the potential to be very effective. Schroeder would likely produce more points should he become the 3C. Lapierre (assuming he re-signs for next year) plays a robust, physical game, and showed improvement in pretty much every aspect of his game. If both of these guys play well, it reduces the need to re-sign Malhotra.
3.) What assets come back in the assumed Luongo trade. Gillis might get a a guy who could serve as 3C.
If Gillis gets a "rental" (like Bozak) and he doesn't stick around, then Malhotra's value here improves. On the other hand, if the rental plays well and agrees to terms with the Canucks for an extension, then that leaves Malhotra out in the cold (as well as Schroeder perhaps).
4.) The new cap for next season. If it is as low as $60 million, as has mentioned in some discussions, then the Canucks might not be able to afford to keep Malhotra and still sign guys like Edler, Higgins, and Lapierre, If the cap is closer to $64 million, then obviously there's a bit more room to manoeuver.
5.) Assuming that the Canucks are interested in re-signing him, what does Manny want to do? This topic often seems to be forgotten in the discussion. Would he be happy enough here to stay for a what could be a significant drop in salary? Will his play return to what it was in 2010 - 11 or better?
Assuming there are more positives than negatives related to Malhotra's future here, I could see Gillis offering a two year, $2 million deal.
Edited by Gollumpus, 02 January 2013 - 06:23 AM.
Following the Canucks since before Don Cherry played here.