Free-agent center Manny Malhotra, who spent most of last season on injured reserve due to the effects of an eye injury, signed a 25-game professional tryout contract with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
Malhotra, one of the NHL's top defensive centers and faceoff men, was struck by a puck during a game on March 16, 2011, while playing for the Vancouver Canucks and suffered a serious injury to his left eye. He wasn't expected to play again that season, but returned to see action in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.
However, Malhotra had lost some vision in the eye and played a diminished role with the Canucks in 2011-12, scoring seven goals and finishing with 18 points in 78 games while playing mostly on the fourth line and killing penalties. After he went scoreless in his first nine games in 2012-13, the Canucks put Malhotra on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.
Malhotra disagreed with general manager Mike Gillis' decision at the time.
"This is Mike’s decision based on his feeling and what he saw on the ice," he said. "But as far as the way I feel out there, I feel fit, I feel good and I feel comfortable with my abilities.”
Malhotra signed with the Checkers, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, after becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 5.
Malhotra, 33, has 108 goals and 278 points in 864 regular-season games and has two points, both goals, in 35 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was chosen by the New York Rangers in the first round (No. 7) of the 1998 NHL Draft and played for the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and San Jose Sharks before spending the previous three seasons with the Canucks.