For a time, it appeared as though Manny Malhotra would never have an opportunity to play in the NHL again. After sustaining a serious eye injury in March of 2011, Malhotra was placed on long-term injured reserve by the Vancouver Canucks nine games into last season. Some speculated that he would join the Canucks as a coach or scout. Malhotra insisted that he was going to play again.
On Thursday afternoon, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that Malhotra had signed a one-year, two-way contract with the club. The agreement will pay Malhotra a guaranteed salary of $250,000, but will count for $600,000 against the salary cap at the NHL level and $125,000 at the American Hockey League level.
Having been an unrestricted free agent since the end of last season, Malhotra agreed to a professional tryout contract with Carolina's AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, at the start of October. The agreement employed Malhotra for 25 games and potentially acted as his last chance at earning another NHL contract. He ultimately performed well enough to earn the shot.
The primary concern with this comeback is his safety. Vancouver manager Mike Gillis expressed that the organization was concerned about Malhotra doing harm to himself because of issues with his vision. One would assume the Hurricanes have adequately examined Malhotra before they even considered him for the PTO, let alone a standard player contract.
As we have seen in the past, ocular issues can have longstanding effects and are easily agitated with extraneous activity. Hopefully these are unfounded concerns and Malhotra is able to successfully play out his comeback.