The Montreal Canadiens have kicked off the free agent signing once again, agreeing to terms with Ben Chiarot on a new contract. The deal is for three seasons and will carry an average annual value of $3.5MM. GM Marc Bergevin released a statement on the deal:
We are very happy to have come to an agreement with Ben Chiarot today. He is a very reliable defenseman and a solid player who will fill a need for our club. He is the type of player who can play some big minutes and be used in different situations. We are convinced he will improve our defensive group.
Chiarot, 28, has developed into quite the reliable defender for the Winnipeg Jets over the years and played in 78 games for the first time last season. Registering a career-high 20 points and logging nearly 19 minutes a night, his departure will be another painful one for a Jets’ blue line that has been ravaged this offseason. Their loss is Montreal’s gain however, as Chiarot represents some much-needed depth on the left side for the Canadiens.
Standing 6’3″, 219-lbs, Chiarot actually led the Winnipeg defense corps in hits last season with 171 and trailed only Jacob Trouba in blocked shots. He was also a key part of the penalty kill, and could be asked to handle even more short-handed time in Montreal where they don’t have the likes of Josh Morrissey in front of him. In fact, Chiarot now becomes the highest-paid left-handed option for the Canadiens, unless Karl Alzner makes a miraculous return to form and gets a regular shift this season. That could mean time with one of Shea Weber or Jeff Petry, though it is obviously not clear yet how things will shake out in training camp.
At the very least, this deal represents a great opportunity financially for the 28-year old as he has only earned approximately $5.3MM over a career filled with short-term deals. Chiarot was ranked 43rd on our Top 50 UFA list.