Ben Chiarot signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $3.5 million.
The 28-year-old defenseman had NHL career highs in goals (five), assists (15) and points (20) in 78 games with the Winnipeg Jets last season, and had no points in six Stanley Cup Playoff games.
[RELATED: 2019-20 NHL free agent tracker]
"It's an unbelievable feeling to be part of the Montreal Canadiens, it's one of the most historic franchises in sports and it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of it," Chiarot said. "I'm thrilled to be wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge (blue, white and red) and living in the beautiful city of Montreal.
"I like the opportunity in Montreal. It's unfortunate that things couldn't work out in Winnipeg, but the opportunity to play for the Montreal Canadiens and being in a city like that, on a team that's fast and up and coming was hard to turn down."
Selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the fourth round (No. 119) in the 2009 NHL Draft, Chiarot has 64 points (12 goals, 52 assists) in 305 regular-season games with the Jets and three assists in 24 playoff games.
"We are very happy to have come to an agreement with Ben Chiarot today," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. "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, who ranked second on the Jets with 139 blocked shots and third with 171 hits last season, said his role isn't expected to change in Montreal.
"In talking with Marc and (coach) Claude (Julien), they see me being exactly what I (was) in Winnipeg: being a hard guy to play against, making the Canadiens a more physical team and harder to play (against) in their own end and in front of our net," Chiarot said. "That's exactly what I see myself doing here, making us a harder team to play against, more physical and more aggressive."
Chiarot, who is used to playing at Bell Centre for the visiting team, is excited to play in his new home rink.
"You know what, the Bell Centre has been my favorite place to play since I came into the NHL," he said. "For me, it's unlike playing in any other building in the League. Playing in Montreal on a Saturday night is something special and there's nothing better than that in hockey. To get to experience that every week now is a dream come true."
NHL.com columnist Dave Stubbs contributed to this report