Thomas Chabot signed an eight-year, $64 million contract extension with the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. It has an average annual value of $8 million.
The 22-year-old defenseman could have become a restricted free agent July 1, 2020. He will play the final year of his entry-level contract this season.
"Now that everything is done and I'll be here for the next nine years, this is something that I'm very happy, very proud to be here," Chabot said. "This is amazing for me and my family, and to be here for the next nine years, build something with the group and be a really competitive team, is exciting."
He had NHL career highs last season in goals (14), assists (41), points (55) and games played (70), and finished 10th among NHL defensemen in scoring.
Chabot led the Senators in average ice time with an NHL career-high 24:17 per game, and he played in the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game. Chabot has 80 points (23 goals, 57 assists) in 134 NHL games since making his debut Oct. 19, 2016. Ottawa selected Chabot with the No. 18 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.
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"I know I had a good season last year but know I can be a better player, and that's something we're going to work on the next couple of years," Chabot said. "We always talk about getting better in my zone, and it's never going to be perfect, but if we can get close to it that it'll be good for us as a team."
Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion said Chabot is a player capable of developing into a core member of a championship-level team.
"We knew there would be some tough days, and now we're looking forward to the great days, and getting Thomas under contract was part of a long-term plan," Dorion said. "We feel we're definitely headed in the right direction, and having Thomas play for nine prime years of his career is a great thing for our fans."
The signing comes less than a month after forward Colin White signed a six-year, $28.5 million contract (average annual value of $4.75 million) with Ottawa on Aug. 21.
"We always talk about the young core guys here, and to see Colin sign a deal for six years shows that guys want to be here, guys want to be a part of it," Chabot said. "When a team says, 'We want to rebuild,' and you're a big part of it, playing in the best hockey league in the world, I think you're just lucky to have that, to be honest. It's a big chance for you as a hockey player, so this is where I want to be.
"I love the city, I love the fans. Since the first day I showed up to Ottawa, everybody's been great to me, so I'm looking forward to it."
Ottawa hired D.J. Smith as coach May 23. The Senators acquired defenseman Nikita Zaitsev and forward Connor Brown in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1, the day they signed free agent defenseman Ron Hainsey and forward Tyler Ennis each to a one-year contract, and they acquired forward Artem Anisimov in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on July 16.
The Senators are very high on forward prospect Drake Batherson and defenseman prospect Erik Brannstrom, who were acquired in a four-player trade with the Vegas Golden Knights that included forward Mark Stone on Feb. 25.
"You have to feel fortunate to be a part of this rebuild but at the same time, [Colin] and I talked a lot over the summer, and when he signed, I think it just showed how much guys want to be here and how much we want to build something together," Chabot said. "There's some work to do, and we'll have some ups and downs because we're young and going to make mistakes. But at the end of the day, what counts is how much the guys want to be here and like being around each other. That just shows a lot about the type of people we have in our locker room."
Dorion said he expects the Senators to be improved after finishing 31st in the NHL standings last season.
"We're going to be good, competitive," he said. "I think this year we hope to surprise people. We're going to be in the pack, and getting as many distractions out of the way, that's what counts the most. Our fans didn't want to worry about other things, they want to worry about us just playing hockey, and now that Thomas is going to play hockey on Saturday (in a preseason game against the Montreal Canadiens) with his new partners, that's what they want to see."