WINNIPEG – For the second straight day, General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and the Winnipeg Jets were busy locking up an asset.
Ben Chiarot has agreed to terms on a new two-year contract worth an average annual value of $850,000.
“I’m excited to be coming back. I love being a Jet and I love living in Winnipeg,” Chiarot told WinnipegJets.com shortly after the announcement. “This organization gave me my
opportunity. It’s an exciting time for me.”
The defenceman was set to become a restricted free agent on Jul. 1.
Chiarot started the season with the Jets’ AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps, but was recalled on Dec. 3, 2014 when a rash of injuries decimated the blue line. He thrived alongside his all-star defensive partner, Dustin Byfuglien, playing upward of 20 minutes a night as the host of felled blueliners – Toby Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart and Jacob Trouba – all recovered
from various afflictions.
“It was kind of a rollercoaster season,” Chiarot said. “Being sent down was disappointing, but then getting called up and getting the chance to play big minutes and show that I could play in the
NHL was a dream come true.
“It’s something I always thought I could do.”
Chiarot played with a variety of partners, each offering their own style to learn from, but his time with Byfuglien still stands out as the most educational.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think he’s one of the best players in the NHL,” Chiarot said of the towering No. 33. “He’s so good with the puck and such a dominant force out there. To
be able to play with him when I was just getting introduced… He made things easier on me
and was such a calming influence.”
The 24-year-old product of Hamilton, ON tallied his first NHL goal on Jan. 3 – a bullet bar-down on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer. “It was one of the nicer goals I’ve ever scored,” he recalled at the time. In total, the 120th pick in the 2009 NHL Draft amassed two goals, eight
points, a +3 rating and 24 penalty minutes in 42 games overall this past season.
“Everything,” he said of what stands out. “Just playing in the NHL is a dream. It’s what you work for every day in the summer. All the work that your parents and everyone around you put in years ago, it’s their hard work paying off for you. It would be hard to pinpoint one thing in a year of chock-full of positives. … I got my foot in the door last year and showed them I can play. Now I want to keep taking my game to a higher level, be a bigger part of the team and help get us into the playoffs
for years to come.”
Chiarot and the Jets got a taste of it this year following a 99-point campaign, but after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, hunger prevails.
“We’ve shown we can get into the playoffs, but every year it’s a battle to get in," Chiarot said. “If you look at our record against Chicago this year, we did pretty well and they ended up winning the Stanley Cup. There’s no team – especially in the Western Conference – we can’t compete
with and play well against.
“It’ll be up to us to prove how good we can be next year.”
— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com