MONTREAL - Ben Chiarot is heading towards a career year in several departments.
It's no secret that the 28-year-old defenseman is probably playing his best hockey since joining the NHL ranks.
His play hasn't gone unnoticed by the Canadiens' coaching staff and fans alike.
The fact that he's logging huge minutes of late is a good indication that his work is greatly appreciated.
The former fourth-round selection of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 - 120th overall - logged more than 27 minutes of ice time in a game for the first time in his NHL career on November 30 against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre.
Since then, Chiarot has played at least 27 minutes in three of the ensuing four games.
The Hamilton, ON native set a new career-high of 30:47 in the Canadiens' 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on December 3 at the Bell Centre. That represents the fourth highest ice time in the League this season. Defenseman Morgan Rielly sits atop that category during the 2019-20 campaign at 33:16.
Even more impressive was Chiarot's lengthy shift of 3:56 to finish the game versus the Islanders. You read that right, the veteran blueliner spent nearly four straight minutes on the ice to help the Canadiens preserve their lead.
And he's extremely pleased with the confidence head coach Claude Julien has shown in him.
"I love that type of challenge. As a player, you're never asking for less ice time. The fact that they've given me that much responsibility, I enjoy it," said Chiarot, following Thursday's practice at the Bell Sports Complex. "I look forward to playing against the top players and trying to do the job of shutting them down. I enjoy the challenge that the coaches have given me."
Chiarot has certainly made the most of his heavier workload. He also leads the team with a plus-5 differential over the last five games.
The imposing 6-foot-3, 225-pound rearguard is putting up good numbers in a few other categories, too.
Through 30 games, he's half way to matching his single-season high in points.
Chiarot already has three goals and 10 points on the year. The former Winnipeg Jets standout enjoyed his most productive season in 2018-19, posting five goals and 20 points in 78 games with the Manitoba-based franchise.
Chiarot also ranks third on the Canadiens with 71 hits and second with 49 blocked shots.
Simply put, it hasn't taken Chiarot long to prove that he was an excellent signing over the summer.