Canucks sign BC Boy Hamhuis and grinder Malhotra
Mike Gillis said there were going to be changes and he is living up to his to his word so far. Today he’s signed Dan Hamhuis to a 6 year $27 million contract, paying him an average of $4.5 million per year. Upfront he’s added 3rd line grinder Manny Malhotra to a 3 year $7.5 million contract.
The 26 year old Hamhuis is coming into his prime and turning a solid reliable top 4 defenseman. He’s not a #1 defensman who can anchor a team’s defense, but is still a solid #2 defensman, which was his role next to Weber in Nashville.
He’s a very physical, likes to lay out big hits and fight, he is positionally sound with great fundamentals and won’t take dumb risks and pinch up in the play. He knows his capabilities and plays within them, making him a quality stay at home defender. He also provides some offensive skill manning the 2nd unit PP in Nashville, a role he could take on with the Canucks. He will not score a lot of goals but has shown a range of 20-38 points during his career.
When you look around at some of the defenseman signed today this seems like a great deal for the Canucks. This is what the other highly coveted UFA’s are set to make next year: Gonchar $5.5 million, Martin $5 million, Volchenkov $4.25, Michalek $4 million, Tallinder $3.37 million, Lydman $3 million.
After acquiring Ballard at the NHL draft on Friday the Canucks now have a very deep defensive core. They still lack an all star calibre #1, but when you this much depth, six defenseman who would be in the top pairing on most teams in the NHL. With Ehrhoff, Ballard, Hamhuis, Salo, Edler, Bieksa. Plus, O’Brien, Rome and Alberts who now don’t even have a spot on the team.
It’s not easy to go out there and find a Pronger type in the off season, so the second best way to make your defense better is get two quality #2 and #3 like defenseman who will provide depth. Plus, if there are any injuries it will not hurt the team like it would if there was $7 or $8 mil locked up to that bona fide #1 defenesman.
The Canucks are now right up against the cap with $57 million spent and have nine NHL defenseman under contract for next yeart, six of them set to make over $3 million next season. They only have 19 players signed and have $2 million to fill out the rest of the roster.
Gillis will probably be moving at least two or three of these defenseman. Bieksa being the most likely candidate making $3.5 million this year and would probably be in the bottom pairing. He’s got the skill and experience to have enough value for another team to want hi,.
Plus, Salo is set to be a UFA after this year and Mitchell will not be resiging. So the additions of Ballard and Hamhuis this off season fills the void long term. Both are far younger and have more potential. Besides Salo all of the Canucks D is very young and still in their primes, all of them less than 30 years old.
The biggest weakness and problems with the Canucks have been addressed and solved with the two big time defenseman brought in over the past week. Even though they have too many defenseman right now under contract, it’s never a bad situation to be in.
None of them have awful long term contracts that would prevent them from being dealt. Now the Canucks can trade some of those assets for prospects, additional help upfront or just dumping salary to alleviate cap space.
The Malhotra signing makes absolutely no sense to me at all at 3 years for $7.5 million, $2.5 million per season. Last year Mikael Samuelsson was signed to the exact same contract, I don’t see Malhotra coming even close to producing at that level. He is now the 4th highest paid forward on the Canucks, probably will be #5 when Raymond goes to arbitration. He is not worthy of top 5 money as a forward.
Here is a career 3rd to 4th line grinder who’s never lived up to expectations offensively after being drafted 7th overall in 1998. Throughout his career he’s turned into a good defensive checker with limited offensive skill. He is coming off his two best offensive seasons scoring 25 goals and 88 points combined in that time span.
But, that is basically the ceiling for the 30 year old checker at max 35 points who will never crack the top 6 forwards. Unless, he is going to be a Selke nominee type of checker I don’t see the logic in brining a player of this nature based on how deep the Canucks organization is at forward. He needs to play at the same level the past few years in order for the Canucks go get any value out of the Malhotra who was making 700 K last season.
They could have kept Kyle Wellwood for probably at least the same price if not less who is three years younger. Even though he’s had less points then Malhotra the last few seasons he’s got way better offensive skills. And he’s also improved defensively a ton since his stint in the AHL a few years ago when he was overweight.
Most importantly the Canucks have players in the system that could play on the third line with more potential and would cost less. Jannick Hansen has shown that he’s capable of playing in the NHL. Cody Hodgson has been anointed as one of the best prospects in Canucks history. If he is as good as advertised with Sedin and Kesler as the 1-2 punch up the middle, now Malhotra where does Hodgson fit in? The 4th line wouldn’t exactly be ideal.
What makes it even more ridiculous is the fact that he has a no trade clause. This is usually something negotiated for a franchise player who signs a long term contract. Not a 3rd line grinder. I could maybe understand it if Malhotra was taking a discount on his contract and wanted the security of staying with a good team for the duration of his contract; clearly that’s not the case.
After today’s moves along with Ballard last week I can’t see Gillis making any more significant free agent signings. Any other big moves will require a trade due to the cap situation they are in right now.
I will give Gillis a ton of credit for doing as he said he would making changes. You can’t dispute the Canucks defesne and team is greatly improved going into next season.