The native of Kitchener, Ontario, Maloney starred with the hometown Kitchener Rangers for two years before being selected 14th overall by the New York Rangers in 1974. After two years of seasoning with the AHL's Providence Reds, Maloney earned a full time slot with New York in 1976-77.
Maloney assumed a key role as quarterback of the Rangers power play. Often playing with Barry "Bubba" Beck, Maloney was quite aggressive himself, as his 1154 career penalty minutes attest. The solid rearguard played so well during his first two years that by 1978-79 he succeeded Phil Esposito as the Blueshirts' captain. Under his leadership, Maloney helped the team reach the Stanley Cup finals. That was an especially proud moment for the Maloney family as younger brother Don joined the team. The two would star on Broadway until Dave's departure up state to Buffalo for the 1984-85 season.
In Buffalo Maloney was a stabilizing influence during the last 52 games of the 1984-85 season and the first round of the playoffs before retiring. He scored 71 goals and 317 points in 657 NHL games.
In retirement Maloney has worked, among other jobs, as a Wall Street stock broker and as an in-studio analyst for Fox Sports. He also coached youth hockey in Connecticut.