Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Montreal Canadiens Player Profile: Manny Malhotra

On July 1st, 2014, the Montreal Canadiens signed left-handed pivot, Manny Malhotra to a one-year deal worth $850,000. The 34-year-old Malhotra was brought in to center the Habs' fourth line and replace journeyman Ryan White after the latter was a healthy scratch for the entire playoffs. White went on to sign a two-way deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Last season, after getting a training camp invite, Malhotra stuck with the Carolina Hurricanes the entire season, recording 7 goals and 6 assists for 13 points in 69 games. The 6'2″, 220-lb veteran is expected to play a veteran important defensive role on the team's checking line this season, allowing two-way centerman Tomas Plekanec to have increased offensive role.

The native of Mississauga, Ontario, played his junior hockey with the Guelph Storm from 1996 to 1998, year he was drafted 7th overall by the New York Rangers. Malhotra played two years in Guelph, notching 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points and 55 penalty minutes in 118 games. Then, Malhotra graduated straight to the NHL in 1998-99 playing 73 games during his rookie season. The Canadiens will be Handy Manny's seventh NHL team.

The defensive forward's best offensive season was in 2008-09 when he recorded 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points in 77 contests with the Columbus Blue Jackets. As you can see, Malhotra is not recognized for his offensive skills, but rather for his excellent defensive play. Malhotra, who suffered a near career ending eye injury while a member of the Vancouver Canucks in 2013, was a nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy for his persevance and dedication to the game.

In 2013-14, the defensive specialist played a little more than 11 minutes per game on average with the Hurricanes, getting a defensive zone start 59.3% of the time. Malhotra's strength, however, is
his face-offs efficiency which stood at 59.5%, good for first place in the #NHL among qualified players, a tad better than Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron.

Strangely, Malhotra was never destined to become a hockey player since both of his parents are accomplished chemists. His father, Shadi Malhotra, was born in India before moving to Quebec City, Canada, to study at Laval University where he met Lise Carrier, who was from Levis (on the south shore of Quebec City where I live) in the early 70s. The couple moved to Mississauga in 1979 after spending a few years in the capital. Emmanuel (Manny), who was born in 1980 in Ontario, had to learn French as the family was very strict on that matter at home.

A veteran of 933 games in the NHL, Malhotra, who has notched 291 points during his underrated career, will mostly help the Canadiens with his size down the middle and his defensive abilities on the penalty kill.

Did you know that Malhotra is married to Joann Nash, the sister of NBA all-star Steve Nash?

Dan Rice's Questions and Answers with Manny Malhotra

Finally, do you like Manny Malhotra's signing or would you rather have kept Ryan White around to play on the team's fourth line?


Not sure why White never caught on, but time will tell.

Love it, he's better than White and we need a face-off guy badly since we let halpern go.

how is White a journeyman? He was drafted by the Habs and never journeyed.

White is a fringe NHLer who didn't even play a single playoff game last season. That's why the Habs didn't offer him another contract.

I like the signing. I watched all the games last year on
rds and I cringed when we had an important faceoff and Plec was the center. We were losing draws in both zones.

His face-off efficiency should help us with our puck possession. Last year lost face-offs cost us big time in our zone. This will definitely help our defensemen move the puck out of our zone and onto the attack better than last year.

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