Unrestricted free agent Manny Malhotra still 'kicking tires' for NHL job opportunities

Manny Malhotra’s National Hockey League playing career remains in a state of limbo, as the free agency period continues.

Malhotra is now an unrestricted free agent, after spending the last three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

A devastating eye injury suffered in March of 2011 has disrupted his career, to the point where Canucks general manager Mike Gillis took Malhotra out of the lineup after nine games during the lockout-shortened 2013 season due to what he deemed were safety concerns for the centre.

NHL free agency officially kicked off July 5.

“Just like everybody else, waiting for a job opportunity,” Malhotra told reporters, after attending the Vancouver Whitecaps Tuesday training session.

“Seems to be pretty quiet right now around the league as far as signings are concerned but that doesn’t deter me from staying in top shape and being ready when the opportunity arises.”

Malhotra took part in a Whitecaps training session last summer, as well.

He grew up playing soccer and hockey, before having to choose a sport as a teenager.

He chose hockey, and was a first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 1998.

In 864 career NHL regular season games, the faceoff guru has scored 108 goals and 278 points.

In 2011, he was enjoying a career year with the Canucks, when he took a puck to the eye on March 16. Against the odds, and wearing a full face shield, he made his return to the Canucks lineup in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

But, after playing in 78 games in 2011-12, Malhotra suited up in just nine games this past season, before Gillis sat him for the remainder of the year.

However, Malhotra is still looking for a chance to continue his playing career.

“There’s a lot of kicking tires going on, I guess, just like everybody else in the league,” he said, “but nothing substantial at this point.

“Whatever opportunity arises, we’re more than happy to listen.”

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