Malhotra, New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr and New York Rangers center Dominic Moore are the three finalists for the award given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
"It means a lot," Malhotra said. "I've been talking to a few people today about it, from where I was last season being shut down to being nominated for this award means a lot to me. A lot of highs and a lot of lows, and to be back where I wanted to be and playing and to be part of a team was a great feeling."
Malhotra signed a professional tryout agreement with Carolina's American Hockey League affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, on Oct. 3 and signed with the Hurricanes four weeks later. He appeared in 69 regular-season games and was second among NHL players in faceoff percentage (59.4 percent).
"I was always grateful for the opportunity they gave me, to go to Charlotte to try to prove myself, and prove that I was healthy and I can contribute," Malhotra said. "I think a big part of that was being in the AHL, it's a tough league. Everybody who's in the AHL wants to get to the next level, so the guys are eager and ready every night, and there's no room for nights off there."