directory Light the Lamp - a Columbus Blue Jackets blog: Malhotra or Mal-function?

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Malhotra or Mal-function?

The Dispatch had a good read on the Manny Malhotra situation on Sunday which of course brings up a good post subject -- will he be back in union blue next season?

Here is forecaster's take on Manny:

ASSETS: Is an accomplished defensive forward. Has good size, speed, leadership qualities and face-off ability.
FLAWS: Has not met offensive expectations. Lacks both confidence and polish in the offensive zone. Is somewhat prone to injury.
CAREER POTENTIAL: Checking center.

I'm gonna start by putting Manny into two camps. The Manny "Malhotra" camp and the Manny "Mal-function" camp.

*in full disclosure a buddy of mine coined that nick-name for him all last season.

This camp sees the value Malhotra brings to the ice and definitely wants him back. As "eplagge" put is so well in the comments of another post Malhotra is like a Swiss army knife.. a "jack(et) of all trades" so to speak.

Manny is versatile and has shown he can stay healthy playing on average 76 games over the past 3 seasons. He notched a career high 35 points last year and finished a +9. He's one of the league's top faceoff men, he's a leader in the room and great in the community. He's also one of the longest tendered Jackets having spent the 5 past seasons here. To top it off he's only 28 years old and right in the thick of his prime.

This camp feels it necessary to spend the coin to bring Manny back in the fold - especially when there aren't that many attractive players on the free agent market this summer to fill his role.

This camp thinks that there are lots of "Mannys" throughout the NHL that can be had at a cheaper price who would produce more -- especially offensively. They appreciate the role he fills defensively and in the circle but get frustrated at his inability to create offensively.

Let's be honest here. Manny played 50+ games with Rick Nash and all he could muster offensively was 36 points?

Let's call a spade a spade shall we.

Manny is a solid checking line center who is good defensively and great at faceoffs and that's about it. He can kill penalties but doesn't give you much if anything offensively. He is in no way/shape/form a top 6 player in this league and should not be paid like one. We aren't saying he's not a useful player but if he's going to command anything above say 1.5 million per year on a 2 to 3 year contract I politely say thanks for your time in Columbus and good luck the rest of the way.

This is a business and Columbus has to make every penny count. We can't overpay for a 3rd/4th line center.... I don't care how good of a community guy he is.

For those on the fence let's take a look at some comparables from last season. First I looked at players who were centers with point totals right around Manny's 35. I then excluded anyone who hadn't played at least 70 games last season. Here's what I found:

Player / GP / Points / Salary / Age
Dubinsky 82 41 .635 22
Zubrus 82 40 3.40 30
Filppula 80 40 2.00 24
Plekanec 80 39 1.80 24
Cogliano 82 38 .850 21
Belanger 79 36 1.75 30
Mueller 72 36 .850 20
Malhotra 77 35 1.50 28
Nylander 72 33 5.50 35
Campbell 77 32 .800 24
Fisher 78 32 4.00 28
Morrison 81 31 2.75 32
Hanzal 74 31 .850 21
Reasoner 79 30 1.00 31

Players: 14
Avg points: 35
Avg salary: 1.97
Avg age: 27

This certainly isn't the most scientific of studies and it has flaws (kind of like my writing) but it gives you a basic idea of what a player like Manny might be worth. There are certainly some anomalies like Mike Fisher's 4 million dollar salary only producing 38 points (and we wonder why Ottawa stunk last season) or Michael Nylander having a horrible year... those are offset by some entry level deals.

Regardless agents use comparable and they'll certainly bring those numbers to the forefront. However if I'm Howson I'm stressing the fact that Manny has never topped 35 points in his career and that was even playing along sign a proven scorer in Rick Nash for long stretches.

Manny is in his prime right now. I don't see him getting a whole lot better. Again he is what he is at this point.

My opinion is that if Howson can get him signed at under 3 years at under 2 mil per then I do the deal. If he wants more then I slide into the "Mal-function" camp and thank him for his time in Columbus and take my chances elsewhere.

...and yes, that is the pic of Manny's diving goal against the Blues from the Dispatch a few years back that I dug up. Still one of the greatest goals in CBJ history!

Fire away - do you want Howson to re-sign Manny?



Patrick said...

I agree with what you said about contract terms dictating wether or not to resign manny. for the right contract, yes, he's a good soldier. For a bad contract, well, not sure he's THAT good of a soldier LOL

eplagge said...

Great article once again LTL... you are dead-on...
Thinking about the situation I think Manny is very versatile and defensively dependable...BUT... offensively very impotent as you pointed out (Bol could put up similar numbers on the 1st line). Considering one of the CBJs weaknesses is scoring. .. look for Howsen to offer 3Yr/6M.... we need more finishers and Manny isn't it...

On the flip side.. think of some of the teams in the League who are very offensively potent.. but have defensive flaws both in 5-5 play and on the PK.. Manny has to be a very appealing 3rd line center for such a team.. My guess is that such a team will extend a 3Yr/7M deal....

BZArcher said...

I'm very much in the 'Right Price' camp.

I like Manny as a person. I think he's a wonderful guy who's been committed to the community. But I think he's got flaws, and we have to be realistic about that.

Buffalo Bob said...

I think Manny's agent should read this blog and just go in at 2M a year and call it a deal

Alex said...

2 years - 1.5 otherwise I'd look elsewhere. Nice guy, but he really seems to disappear for stretches of time. Seems to do well in the face off circle until we really need one, then he never seems to come through. Defensively he is above average though.

eplagge said...

I agree.. somewhere in the 1.5-2M per year range.. And that's pretty generous for a versatile 3rd line center.. if he demands more funds or longer term, I think Howsen should look elsewhere.... Heck maybe Manny wants to try the free-market and give it a whirl.. especially in today's NHL you don't get that many opportunities to test the waters..