Jake Gardiner signed a four-year, $16.2 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. It has an average annual value of $4.05 million.
The 29-year-old defenseman, who became an unrestricted free agent July 1, had 30 points (three goals, 27 assists) in 62 regular-season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season and two assists in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"I don't really feel like going through this again, and I thought this would be a really good opportunity with a really good team and a great place to live," Gardiner said. "It seemed like a great fit for me and my family.
"It was an interesting summer. I wasn't too stressed out just because I believed in myself and knew that something was going to work out. It was a lot harder on my wife than anyone. She was saying stuff like, 'Are we going to the KHL?' and all that kind of stuff. It was good to finally get done and hopefully find a place to live soon and put her mind at ease. ... I was pretty relaxed throughout the process, which I probably shouldn't have been, but that's just how it was, to be honest."
Gardiner said one reason he was drawn to the Hurricanes was their talent at defenseman.
"The blue line is probably ... it's got to be one of the best in the League already and I think I can help a little bit and hopefully help the power play out if that's where they see me," he said. "They have a really good right side (Justin Faulk, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Trevor van Riemsdyk) and I think I'll be able to help out the left side (Jaccob Slavin, Gustav Forsling, Haydn Fleury) a bit and help this team win."
The Hurricanes were 20th in the NHL last season on the power play (17.8 percent) and were 14th among 16 teams during the Stanley Cup Playoffs (9.6 percent). Gardiner has 73 power-play points in the NHL, including more than 10 in four of the past six seasons.
"We definitely talked about it. If that's where they see me, then great," Gardiner said. "But I guess we'll have to see when the season starts. I like playing on the power play and I think I can definitely help it out."
Selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round (No. 17) of the 2008 NHL Draft, Gardiner has 245 points (45 goals, 200 assists) in 551 NHL games, all with the Maple Leafs. He has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 26 playoff games.
"Jake is a solid, veteran blueliner with a proven history of contributing offensively, including on the power play," Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell said. "He's had options this summer, but ultimately decided that Carolina is his best fit, and we're thrilled to have him here."