Rabid Habs

5 Candidates To Replace Malhotra In Face-Off Circle

Habs Manny Malhotra

Manny Malhotra had a good 2014-2015 season with the Canadiens and was very effective in the face-off circle (906 face-offs, 59.3%). However, Marc Bergevin has confirmed that Malhotra will not be returning with the Habs next season. Although Malhotra’s offensive performance was inconsistent, he had a respectable season given his fourth line role. While Manny Malhotra enjoyed his time in Montreal, it’s time for him to move on.

Malhotra is set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) on July 1st 2015 and his face-off skills may land him another one-way contract.

Let’s take a look at 5 candidates who could potentially replace the void left by Malhotra in the face-off circle:

1) Tomas Plekanec
FO: 1557
FO %: 49.9

Tomas Plekanec has been with the Canadiens since the start of his NHL career. Despite some people saying it’s time to trade Plekanec, can the Habs really afford to trade its best two-way player and #1 center?

2) Lars Eller
FO: 784
FO %: 51.7

During the 2014-2015 season, Eller chipped in for 15 goals and 12 assists including 42 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he had 1 goal and 2 assists before the Canadiens got eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning. I think it’s time for Bergevin to give Eller a bigger role on the team. That role is the team’s #2 center.

3) Antoine Vermette
FO: 1577
FO %: 55.3

Antoine Vermette is an effective face-off specialist for the Chicago Blackhawks. He is a good leader on and off the ice and can contribute offensively. Vermette is set to become an UFA on July 1st. Will his salary demands be more than the $3.75M earned in 2014/2015? Should MB try to land the veteran face-off specialist?

4) Carl Soderberg
FO: 766
FO %: 48.2

Soderberg played with the Boston Bruins during the 2014-2015 season and will be an UFA on July 1st. During the 2014-2015 season, he had 13 goals and 31 assists and collected 26 penalty minutes. Soderberg could bring more offense to the Habs, but he will definitely look for a pay raise from his $1M salary.

5) Mike Ribeiro
FO: 1348
FO %: 43.2

Former Hab Mike Ribeiro had 15 goals and 47 assists in 82 games this past season with Nashville. Could Ribeiro return to Montreal? Do the Habs want him back? Do the fans want him back?

 

Now I turn to you Habs fans! Should the Montreal Canadiens be worried about the void left by Manny Malhotra? Should we look within and give more responsibilities to Plekanec and Eller? Or, should we target the UFA market on July 1st?

Leave us your comments and/or tweet us your thoughts @rabidhabs.