The Hurricanes are dealing with injuries and a three-game losing streak. Coach Kirk Muller felt the time was right to introduce a veteran presence to the team.
"You can never have enough experience, [plus] the value of faceoffs and killing some penalties," Muller said. "Being just a mentor to some guys in our lineup. I think his experience on and off the ice will be huge for our group."
Malhotra lost much of the vision in his left eye when he was injured during a game in March 2011. He has played a limited role since then, but said he has full clearance by doctors to return to play.
"My vision is not what it was; it never will be, but it's fine," he said. "I'm accustomed to what I do have."
Malhotra is the second player the Hurricanes have brought in this season who played with Muller at the end of the coach's playing career in Dallas, along with injured forward Radek Dvorak.
"It's kind of ironic because I knew he was the guy who was going to take my job," Muller said of Malhotra. "But I was happy. We had a great relationship. I was happy to see him move on with his career and play big roles with Columbus and Vancouver. He's done well for himself.”
Malhotra admitted that his summer was long, waiting for calls from interested NHL teams. But after a morning skate with his new team, he sounded like a player with a mission.
“I've never taken a day for granted in this League," said Malhotra, who had played eight games with the Hurricanes' American Hockey League team, the Charlotte Checkers, before signing Thursday. "I truly love coming to the rink. I enjoy every minute I'm here. I love being part of a team. I've been given a great opportunity here in Carolina. I want to prove them right."
Here are the projected lineups for the Lightning and Hurricanes: