VANCOUVER - Defenceman Aaron Rome performed well when given an opportunity with the Vancouver Canucks last season, and the NHL team rewarded him Tuesday with a two-year contract.
Rome came to camp last year as a depth player. But the Nesbitt, Man., native played on a regular basis when Willie Mitchell was lost for the season in January with a concussion.
"Within those games, at times he was playing among our top four defenceman," said Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman. "He clearly has made the step to becoming a bona fide NHL player."
The deal will pay US$700,000 this year and US$800,000 next season.
Rome, 26, could have become a Group Six unrestricted free agent on July 1. He debated testing the market, but decided to stay with the Canucks.
"You think about it," Rome said in a telephone interview from Brandon, Man. "The big thing was for myself and my family is we liked it in Vancouver.
"I liked the organization and the team and the players. I felt comfortable."
Rome admits he was "probably a bit of an unknown" when he signed with Vancouver last year. He didn't dress for the Canucks' first five regular season games, then was in and out of the lineup until Mitchell's injury.
"I felt when I got the opportunity to play I got better and better as time went on," he said.
"Going into next year I am hoping to continue to get better, not to just be a depth guy. I feel like I have proven to be an everyday player. I'd like to help as much as I can."