The Vancouver Canucks have signed veteran center Manny Malhotra to a three-year contract.
Malhotra, 30, had a career-high 14 goals and added 19 assists for 30 points, going plus-17 with 41 penalty minutes last season for the San Jose Sharks after signing as a free agent in September. He had two power-play goals and four game winners and won 62.5 percent of his 664 faceoffs. A third-line center, Malhotra played in all situations, averaging 2:06 minutes of shorthanded time and 1:22 minutes of power-play time. He had 66 hits, 38 blocked shots and 30 takeaways.
A big body at center at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Malhotra, the New York Rangers first-round pick, No. 7, in the 1998 Entry Draft, has gotten more difficult to play against in recent years. After struggling for four seasons with the Rangers, he was traded to the Dallas Stars where he was put on waivers early in his second season.
He turned his career around while playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets and coach Ken Hitchcock, averaging 11 goals and 29 points in five seasons. In 11 NHL seasons, Malhotra has 90 goals and 140 assists for 230 points in 705 games. He is minus-15 for his career with 385 penalty minutes. Malhotra has nine power-play goals, two shorthanded goals and 20 game-winners in his career.
While the Canucks were the NHL's second-best team in 5-on-5 play during the regular season, they were 18th with an 81.6 penalty-killing percentage and last of 16 teams during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in penalty killing. Malhotra's defensive skills should help the Canucks.