Thursday, July 01, 2010

Canucks Sign Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malholtra

On the opening day of free agency the Vancouver Canucks went out and got the two guys they wanted, defenseman Dan Hamhuis ($4.5m 6yrs) and centre Manny Malholtra ($2.5m 3 yrs). Prices and term are always higher than what players are "really worth", but Mike Gillis just addressed the two biggest needs of the Canucks and still has cap room to fill in the rest of the roster.

Dan Hamhuis $4.5 million over 6 years
Dan Hamhuis was one of the more sought after free agents on the market, his rights were traded twice and there were reportedly many other teams interested, however he chose to play for his "home town" team at a salary which is likely less than what others had offered. Six years is a long time, but at 27 the Canucks are paying for his prime years, so term should not be an issue. A salary of $4.5m is a relative bargain for a sought after free agent defenseman, but may be a little over priced for a player who has yet to prove he can be a top pairing guy and who is joining a team whose salary structure has limited defensemen at the $3.5m mark.
Like the recently acquired Keith Ballard, Hamhuis is a legitimate top 4 defensemen who can play at both ends of the rink, but perhaps the most important adjective to describe the two players is "durable". In his 6 year career Hamhuis has missed only 9 games. For a team who saw their playoff chances dissipate due to injuries on defense, durable defensemen are a welcome sight.
With the addition of Hamhuis someone is obviously on the way out. The general consensus is that Kevin Bieksa will be traded with Shane O'Brien likely being moved as well. But that's not necessarily a sure thing. There may be enough minutes to spread around on defense and there is even the small possibility of Bieksa playing up front if needed. Logically Bieksa seems to be on his way out, but there's still a possibility of the Canucks hanging on to him if they can find the cap room.
Manny Malholtra $2.5 million over 3 yrs
Let's get this out of the way... yes the salary is at least $500k too much and the reported no trade clause isn't great. Ok, now that that's done with Manny Malholtra is exactly the player the Canucks needed... a 6'2" 215 lbs centre who can also play the wing, kill penalties, win faceoffs (62.5% last year) and chip in offensively (14g 19a vs Wellwood's 14g 11a).
Malholtra had a very good playoff run for San Jose and will bring some much needed size and grit to the Canucks bottom 6 forward group and to the penalty kill. Should Cody Hodgson make the team as a centre Malholtra has the ability to move to the wing.
Other Moves...
The Canucks also signed former first round pick Jeff Tambellini to a 1 year deal and centre Joel Perrault to a 1 year deal for $510k. Perrault may have a chance at the 4th line centre spot, but both will be in tough to make the team out of camp especially with Gillis likely still in the market for another bottom 6 forward.

In other news Canuck fans are still ecstatic that Darryl Sutter still has his job in Calgary.