Vancouver Giants forward James Malm (right) shields the puck from Everett Silvertips’ Mario Mucka during Western Hockey League play at the Langley Events Centre earlier this season. Malm is one of the Giants’ leading young players.

Vancouver Giants forward James Malm (right) shields the puck from Everett Silvertips’ Mario Mucka during Western Hockey League play at the Langley Events Centre earlier this season. Malm is one of the Giants’ leading young players.

Malm making most of more opportunity

Offensive dynamo James Malm finding his stride in first full season with Vancouver Giants

A dog really is a man’s best friend but for James Malm, the family pet also serves as his off-season training partner.

“He loves it, he always comes over and tries to initiate it,” Malm said with a chuckle about his golden retriever, Toby.

The pair will spend time in the summers in the backyard of the family’s home, where Malm’s dad John constructed an obstacle course a few years ago after they moved to Langley from North Delta

The course is designed for Malm to work on his puck-handling skills.

With Toby, Malm will play keep-away, trying to dangle the puck through the dog’s legs.

“I think it helps quite a bit for my hand-eye (co-ordination),” Malm said.

And there is no denying that his offensive abilities are what have gotten Malm to this point.

“He has got lots of great offensive instincts. When he has the puck he can do some real good things with it,” said Vancouver Giants head coach Jason McKee.

“A young guy that I think is just scratching the surface. Tremendously talented player.”

Scoring is always something which came naturally to Malm.

In his final season of bantam, Malm had 70 goals and 144 points in 56 games, prompting the Giants to select him in the second round (44th overall) of the 2014 Western Hockey League bantam draft.

Malm played the next season with the Valley West Hawks of the BC Major Midget Hockey League, finishing with 20 goals and 66 points in 31 games. He nearly won the league scoring title, finishing one point back of the winer despite playing seven fewer games.

He made the jump to the WHL the following season but went goal-less in 25 games, registering just a pair of assists before returning to the Hawks and continuing his torrid scoring pace at the major midget level with 43 points in 18 games to finish 11th in the league. Had he played a full season, he was on pace for 95 points, which would have won the scoring title by 25 points.

And after going scoreless in his first four WHL games this season with the Giants, Malm finally broke through in game five with not one, but two goals.

“I think the first one is the hardest to get, especially since it was a while and I hadn’t gotten one,” he said.

“I wasn’t too frustrated, I knew it would come. I know I can contribute in this league and I knew it would come eventually.”

What helped was the fact that Malm wasn’t playing poorly, he just wasn’t getting prime scoring chances.

But that goal sparked off some sustained production for the winger as he managed six goals and 11 points in 18 games. That coincided with a run of victories for the Giants as well, as the team rattled off 10 victories in 18 games.

For the season, Malm has seven goals and 15 points while playing in 29 of the team’s 32 games.

“We really felt  that James’ play took off after he scored his first goal,” said Vancouver general manager Glen Hanlon.

“It is difficult to have all these creative juices and putting pressure on yourself to score. When he scored his first goal, we really felt that his offensive ability took off.”

Malm’s play has earned him the opportunity to move up the Giants lineup, at times lining up with leading scorers Tyler Benson and Ty Ronning.

At five-foot-nine and 180 pounds, Malm isn’t an intimidating player on the ice. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for in creativity and tenacity. He also isn’t afraid to go to the net or the dirty areas in search of the puck.

“(Last year) was probably the first time I have ever struggled to put up points,” he admitted. “But I just had to stick to my game.”

Only 17 years old — he turns 18 in June — Malm is the leading Giants scorer among the team’s 1999-born and younger players. And both Hanlon and McKee expect even bigger things down the road.

“We feel he can come in and run power plays with his creativity and vision,” Hanlon said.

“By the time he is finished his last year here, we expect him to be one of the leading scorers in the league.”

The coach feels that once Malm — like many other young players trying to find their footing in the WHL — improves his play away from the puck, his game will grow even more.

“Once he adds that part to his game he is going to be a real explosive offensive player I believe,” McKee said.

“When he has (the puck) he tends to do some pretty darn good things with it but you are not always going to have the puck at this level, you are going to have to work to get it back.

“These guys are bigger, better faster players (than other levels), they are not just going to hand it over.”

•••

The Giants are back in action Friday (Dec. 16) as they host the Portland Winterhawks. Game time is 7:30 p.m. and it is Hyundai Teddy Bear Toss Night with fans encouraged to throw stuffed animals to celebrate Vancouver’s first goal. All of the teddy bears collected will be donated to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A heavy police presence was on scene on Dec. 28, 2017 following the shooting death on Bates Road in Abbotsford of Alexander Blanarou, 24, of Surrey. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Three men charged with Abbotsford shooting death of Surrey man

Alexander Blanarou, 24, was killed in a rural area on Dec. 28, 2017

RCMP. (File photo: Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media)
Surrey RCMP recover stolen semi-trailer and its $200K of cargo

Police say the cargo was found in separate location than the trailer

Surrey Little Theatre is located on 184th Street at Fraser Highway. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey Little Theatre, Langley Players look to merge as single company at 200th Street theatre

A ‘really exciting’ development for the volunteer-run theatre companies

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Mirandy Tracy, left, and Tara Kurtz are two Langley mothers who are organizing a "sick out" for Tuesday, Dec. 1 to protest COVID conditions in schools. They're calling for masks and smaller class sizes, among other things. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Politician, labour leader throw support behind student Sick Out day

Langley parents started the movement to keep kids home on Dec. 1 as a protest

A family emerged with a purchase at the Tannenbaum Tree Farm at 5398 252 St in Aldergrove on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Christmas tree season is off to an early start

People are ‘bored’ with staying home due to COVID-19 and want to decorate early, farm owner believes

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Most Read