When the Habs failed to give Ryan White a qualifying offer, it was speculated
that the club had someone in mind to replace him. Mere minutes into free
agency, Marc Bergevin had White’s replacement signed, sealed, and delivered in
veteran Manny Malhotra. Was this the right decision or would the Canadiens
have been better off keeping White around?
Matt Dilworth: Although I will miss Ryan White’s energy and
willingness to fight anyone, Manny Malhotra is an upgrade in every other
category. With a reasonable cap hit and term, Malhotra will vastly improve
Montreal’s faceoff numbers and bear some of the burden that Tomas Plekanec has
been shouldering in that department. He should be an asset on the penalty kill,
and his veteran leadership will go a long way in a locker room that is now
missing Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges. Although his foot speed prevents the 4th
line from being a true energy line, his wingers will hopefully compensate for
that; I’m optimistic that the line will become a multi-dimensional one that can
handle most situations. As intangibles go, the way Malhotra was able to return
from injury should serve as an inspiration for every Montreal Canadien.
Brian La Rose: Malhotra over White definitely is an upgrade for
the Habs. Montreal has lacked a true faceoff specialist that can play in
key situations for quite some time now. Malhotra should also be a big
upgrade over White on the penalty kill as well as offensively. Yes, White
is the grittier player but there was a lot of bad mixed in with the good
throughout his tenure. Grit is all that White brought to the table though
which made him a fringe player at best. The intangibles that Malhotra can
bring to the table will be a lot more beneficial for the Habs moving forward.
The fourth line won’t be as rugged now but it will be much more effective.
Alex Létourneau: While I always liked Ryan White for his grit
and unhinged willingness to physically engage anyone on the ice, his timing and
hockey sense was always a wild card. He played himself into the press box with
some of the most deflating penalties at key moments in games I can remember in
recent memory, which ultimately cost him the trust of the coaching staff. In
Manny Malhotra, Montreal gets a solid veteran defensive player with a little
scoring upside who can play the penalty kill. An eye injury nearly cost him his
career but he displayed the fight and character to return to the NHL, something
Marc Bergevin likely weighed in his decision. Also, at 6’2 220 lbs, that’s a big
body the Canadiens need down the middle. I like Malhotra over White and I have a
hard time seeing this as a bad move down the line.
Kevin Meldrum: Malhotra is a better option as 4th line centre.
He’s a veteran who is excellent on the draws and penalty kill, brings good size,
and is a very good skater. This is an excellent cheap option with strong
leadership skills and will be better moving forward than White would have.
Norm Szcyrek: I do prefer the addition of Malhotra over White,
but I was hoping the Habs would still keep Ryan for depth purposes. Malhotra is
one of the best faceoff centres in the league, consistently in the top-3 for
several years. He has excellent size and plays a good positional role. His
skating is above average and he’s capable of playing the wing too. White was a
reckless player that fell into the coach’s doghouse during the lockout season,
often being called for bad penalties at bad times during a game. He started to
show more restraint this season after he returned from his injury. At one point,
he formed an excellent 4th line with Dale Wiese and Michael Bournival, since the
two speedy wingers provided great forechecking pressure against the opposition.
That experiment was short lived after Bournival got concussed. Ryan showed a lot
of heart and would stick up for his teammates at every opportunity. I think
there’s a small chance he will get re-signed, perhaps to a two-way contract
since the Habs forwards depth is very limited. There’s also a better chance that
he gets signed to a Western Canadian team that needs depth, perhaps Winnipeg
will give him a chance to play in his home province.