Jalen Chatfield contract extension Carolina Hurricanes
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

The Carolina Hurricanes secured an important part of their defense by signing Jalen Chatfield to a three-year contract extension on Friday.

The contract, with an average annual value of $2.5 million, keeps the 28-year-old defenseman in Raleigh through the 2026-27 season.

Chatfield, who was about to become a free agent on July 1, had a breakout season with the Hurricanes last year.

He set career highs in goals (8), assists (14), points (22), and plus-minus rating (plus-23) in 72 regular-season games. He also added two assists in 11 playoff games.

“Jalen has become a key part of our defense in the last two years,” said Hurricanes interim GM Eric Tulsky. “His speed and work ethic make him a strong player at both ends of the ice.”

Chatfield’s path to the NHL was unusual. He went undrafted out of junior hockey and signed with the Vancouver Canucks as a free agent in 2017. After developing in the AHL, Chatfield made his NHL debut with the Canucks in the 2020-21 season. The Hurricanes claimed him off waivers in January 2021.

Since joining Carolina, Chatfield has become a dependable two-way defenseman. Along with trade acquisition Dmitry Orlov, he formed a solid third pairing that helped the Hurricanes finish second in the Metropolitan Division. The Canes made the playoffs for the sixth straight year.

“When you have a great group of teammates, coaches, fans, and a chance to win every year, it’s special,” Chatfield said last month. “It makes people want to stay here.”

Although the Hurricanes were knocked out by the New York Rangers in the second round, re-signing Chatfield is crucial to keeping the team’s core strong.

This offseason, the Hurricanes have more work ahead, with key players like Jake Guentzel, Brady Skjei, and Brett Pesce becoming unrestricted free agents. Also, young stars Seth Jarvis and Martin Necas will be restricted free agents.

For now, the team can celebrate the return of a player who has been vital to their success.

With his speed, work ethic, and improving offensive skills, Chatfield is expected to be a key part of the Hurricanes’ defense for years to come.