COLUMBUS, Ohio - James Wisniewski hit the jackpot despite choosing not to test free agency.
The defenceman signed a US$33-million, six-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to hitting the open market.
"James is a player we identified very early on and we are thrilled to have him," said Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson. "He brings offensive skill and grit to our blue-line, character to our dressing room and will be a key contributor to our hockey club."
Columbus acquired his rights from Montreal earlier in the week for a fifth-round draft pick in 2012.
Wisniewski earned $3.25 million last season, when he had 10 goals and 51 points while playing for the Habs and New York Islanders.
The Blue Jackets have been aggressive this off-season, having already acquired centre Jeff Carter in a trade with Philadelphia at the draft.