Having spent his junior years with the Owen Sound Platers of the OHL, Maltby was selected in the 3rd round, 65th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1992 Draft. Maltby spent his entire rookie year at the Cape Breton Oilers of the AHL and played his first NHL season in the 1993 playing 68 games and scoring 11 goals and 8 assists for 19 points and 74 penalty minutes. He played for the Oilers another 2 seasons before moving to the Detroit Red Wings during the 1995-96 NHL season, in which he was traded on March 20 by the Oilers to the Red Wings in exchange for defenseman Dan McGillis.
Although Maltby was a rather prolific scorer in the Canadian junior leagues, he has never netted a 20 goal season nor has he reached 40 points. Instead, he has gained a reputation around the NHL as a solid checking forward who is able to instigate his opponents into taking a cheap penalty. As a result, he was named to the Canadian National Team for the 2005 World Championships. His best statistical season was 2002-2003, when he set career highs in goals (14), assists (23), points (37), and penalty minutes (91).