Why the Oilers Need Manny Malhotra



When Steve Tambellini says that it's not a simple task to move in new players when you have a current overload of contracts and salary to take anything on, I agree...to a point.

The Oilers have spent the first two weeks of free agency filling their goaltending (check), clearing a couple contracts in Brodziak, and Sestito (check) and going after Dany Heatley (can't check that one off yet). But since, have been extremely quiet this summer to the dismay of many Oiler fans.

Sure they made an attempt to land Chris Neil from Ottowa, so we know they were willing and able to take on another contract, but what would Chris Neil have brought us?

Grit.

Hang on, I'm sure there's more...

Nope.

Grit.

He doesn't score, he can't win face-offs, he takes in-opportune penalties and he's not good for much more than stirring up trouble. In a way that can be seen as a positive, but I don't think Chris Neil was even close to the answer the Edmonton Oilers are looking for.

So what do the Oilers need? In my opinion, one player who doesn't affect the Heatley soap opera at all. One player who comes in at a relatively cheap cap hit and should the Oilers somehow land Heatley, not force them to struggle to come in under the cap. A player with size, grit (see Chris Neil) and the ability add to the team in areas this team really needs.

Who is this one player?

Manny Malhotra - Center Born May 18 1980 -- Mississauga, ONT Height 6.02 -- Weight 210 --

I've been keen on Malhotra since I saw the video above and others like it. And for the price Malhotra will likely fetch, a move like this makes a lot of sense for the Oilers.

At best guess, Malhotra's going rate will be a $2.5 cap hit on a 3 yr deal. Very respectable for a face-off specialist (58.0% in faceoffs last year) who plays smart two-way hockey, but has put up a consistent 9-11 goals every year on a poor hockey team talent wise in Columbus (when I say poor, I see a lot of similarities between Columbus and Edmonton).

Malhotra consistently chimes in with about 30 pts a season -- something the Oilers could use help with, but more importantly he fills a vacant 3rd line center role left by the departed Kyle Brodziak and to this date unsigned Gilbert Brule and unproven Marc Pouliot. Malhotra knows his place in the depth chart, but can step up if needed and he's a well respected voice in the lockerroom.

He's yet to be a proven playoff guy, getting nothing last year and of course playing only for Columbus in last few years means he hasn't had many opportunitie; but I'm more of the opinion that the Oilers need to worry more about getting themselves to the playoffs than worrying about what happens when they get there.

And then there is this. http://ca.askmen.com/fine_living/wine_dine_archive_200/229_wine_dine.html

Grabbing Jason Strudwick was a good move by the Oilers and one of their few signings this summer. Tell me the above story doesn't bode well for the youngsters on this team and remind you of something a Jason Strudwick might do to bring them into the fold or keep them loose with a lot of pressure on them to exceed expecations this coming season.

and he can fight...

The downside?

Malhotra wanted to stay in Columbus. An article written in the bleacher report back in May quoted Malhotra when he said he's deeply enriched in the community of Ohio and in charitable organizations. "This has become home to me and my family," Malhotra said last month after the Blue Jackets closed out their season.

That said, this article was back in May when it was noted Scott Howson wanted to hang on to his 3rd line center and get him under a long term contract. He's had more than 2 months to do so and to date, nothing has been settled between the two sides.

This says to me, if I'm Steve Tambellini, that for a medium term contract at fair dollars, Malhotra can be had. A community like Edmonton, full of opportunities to give back on a team where Manny's skill set can be utilized might make the Oilers attractive.

If the Oilers are to do this, it should be soon. The longer it waits, the more Malhotra is likely to take a hometown discount in Columbus. I would hate this to be another missed opportunity.

But then again, to this point we have no idea if Tambellini has even inquired about the center.

2 comments:

I agree 100%, I've been an advocate for a very long time on acquiring Malhotra, I think he is exactly the kind of player the Oilers need.

that being said, I noticed you kept typing his name incorrectly, it's "MALHOTRA" not "MAHOLTRA" as you kept "saying".

July 10, 2009 at 11:01 AM comment-delete

Thank you for noticing. Oh how one simple copy and paste error can go so awkwardly when you use the name as frequently as I did in the article.

July 10, 2009 at 11:08 AM comment-delete

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