Shark-Infested Blogger

June 20, 2010 12:33 PM

Manny Malhotra: Future in Teal?

Last season, Manny Malhotra was a steal at $700,000. No player taking part in even half of the playoff games made less money than Manny Malhotra. Only one player who did not miss more than 30 regular season games (Jed Ortmeyer) made less.

He was a fantastic checking line centre, fantastic in the faceoff circle, and had a career year in goals and second in points scored. The only season in which he scored more points was 2008-09, making it clear Malhotra is peaking right now.

As an unrestricted free agent, you could have no better timing. The San Jose Sharks can expect to have to pay much more for his services if they want to keep him.

So how realistic is getting him back on the roster?

4451994599_b995890370.jpgFirst and foremost, by all accounts Malhotra was happy here, not only with his teammates but the franchise and the Bay Area (but who doesn't like it here, right?). Since he was such an integral part of the team, the Sharks will want him back.

This means his re-signing is all a matter of numbers. It is well-known that the Sharks have a dozen significant free agents left to sign--players who had major roles in 2009-10 and ones in the system who have played at the NHL level and could be ready to step up.

Because many of them are coming off good seasons in which they helped the team reach the conference finals, many of them will get raises. While the salary cap is expected to nudge upward by as much as $2 million, this only raises the market value of each player--i.e. the Sharks will lose more than just Rob Blake from last season's roster.

Thus, each player will have to be evaluated not on whether they are worthy of being re-signed, but how much bang for the buck the team can get. The best thing to do is look at the kind of contract each is likely to get on the open-market and see if the Sharks can afford the cap space to come at least very close to that figure.

Taking a look at some recent contracts signed, Tomas Holmstrom is making less than $2 million per year. Obviously Malhotra is not the player Holmstrom is, even as the Swede's talents diminish. However, this contract represents a huge hometown discount from a player who wants to stay with the only team he's ever been with.

Last season, the Chicago Blackhawks signed Tomas Kopecky away from Detroit for $1.2 million. Kopecky has his name etched on the Stanley Cup (now twice), giving him a premium rate, but is not the player Malhotra is.

Thus, it is reasonable to think Manny would fall between the two players, and probably closer to Kopecky. In all likelihood, if the Sharks offer him a $1.25 million contract, he will be willing to stick around: That represents almost a 70 percent raise.

It is also a contract the Sharks can afford, as it leaves them with over $3 million in space from the departure of Blake to spread around. Expect Malhotra to be back in Teal next season.

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