RALEIGH, N.C. -- Goalie Scott Darling didn't hesitate when the Carolina Hurricanes offered him a chance to become a starter.
Acquired by Carolina in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on April 28, the pending unrestricted free agent agreed to a four-year contract Friday worth $16.6 million, an average annual value of $4.15 million.
"I was super excited when the trade happened and my goal the whole time was to sign with Carolina," Darling said Saturday. "I'm really excited about the team that's there, and I've heard nothing but great things. Once we worked out the contract part, it was a no-brainer."
Darling, 28, was 18-5-5 with a 2.38 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in 32 games (27 starts) this season as the backup to Corey Crawford. He was expected to be a sought-after free agent on July 1.
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"In our mind, we wanted to push the envelope and see if we could get a deal done," Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said. "There's a gamble with anything, but we think he's earned this opportunity and we think he will be capable of delivering."
Carolina has goaltenders Cam Ward and Eddie Lack under contract for one more season. The Hurricanes were tied for 26th in the NHL with a .901 save percentage this season. Francis said he will explore all possibilities with them.
In 75 NHL regular-season games, Darling has a 2.37 GAA and .923 save percentage. He played in five games in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
Video: Reaction to Scott Darling trade
Darling played two seasons in the Southern Professional Hockey League among his nine minor-league assignments.
"I did enjoy the ride. It's been great for me," he said. "For someone like me, it just makes me really appreciate where I'm at today. It makes me really excited."
Darling has never played more than 35 games in a professional season but said he knows what steps to take to secure the No. 1 job.
"I'm going to do everything in my power to learn how to be the best starter I can be," he said. "I have a good network of goalie friends. I'm going to be picking their brains and asking for help."
Whatever Darling lacks in NHL experience, Francis said he believes he makes up for it with intangibles.
"He's shown in spurts that he can be that guy, and you do tend to get the other team's best when you're the Blackhawks," Francis said. "He's had a pretty interesting path to get here. I don't think you accomplish what he has without being pretty strong mentally."