It was hardly a surprise that Manny Malhotra was the Carolina Hurricanes' nominee this season for the 2014 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
Nor should it be a surprise hes among the three finalists for the annual award.
The NHL announced Wednesday that Malhotra, New Jersey Devils forward Jaromir Jagr and New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore were the finalists. The winner will be announced June 24 during the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.
The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the NHL player who best demonstrates perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Malhotra, whose career appeared in jeopardy because of a serious eye injury, was nominated by the Carolina chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA).
The winner is selected from a poll of the 30 chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season and a $2,500 grant from the PHWA is awarded annually to the Bill Masterton Scholarship Fund, based in Bloomington, Minn., in the name of the winner.
Malhotra, 33, went into the 2013-2014 season without a team and many believed his vision problems -- he was hit in the left eye by a deflected puck in March 2011 -- had ended his career. But the center earned a professional tryout with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, then signed an NHL contract with the Hurricanes on Oct. 31 and played 69 games.
Malhotra served as an alternate captain for the Canes, providing veteran leadership. He closed the season with seven goals and six assists, and finished second in the NHL in face-off-win percentage at 59.4 percent.
Asked his definition of perseverance, Malhotra said, "For me, its maintaining focus on your goal regardless of what the naysayers say or anyone says. Its about believing in yourself, believing in your goal and continuing to strive towards that and not allowing any outside factors to deter you from your goal.
Ron Francis, the Canes new general manager, was a Masterton finalist in 2002.