One of the players most talked about during this year’s NHL Trade Deadline was defenseman Ben Chiarot. The moment Josh Manson was traded, talks really heated up and on Wednesday, Chairot was traded to the Florida Panthers — a team that earlier on Wednesday cleared some cap space by trading Frank Vatrano.
The details of the trade are Chiarot to Florida for Ty Smilanic, a first-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2022.
With the changes in Montreal, the Canadiens under new management, and news the franchise was rebuilding/retooling, it was a forgone conclusion that the defenseman and pending UFA was likely on the move.
Widely viewed as a big, strong inside defender who leans on people, he’s an ideal No. 4 defenseman on a competitive team looking for an extended playoff run. He brings with him experience — last season he went to the Stanley Cup Finals — and he’s not locked into a long-term, expensive contract. At the same time, as a rental, he was going to be among the more expensive short-term options.
Chiarot’s name had been connected to a number of teams, including the St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, and others. Ultimately, he goes to the Panthers in a move that will add depth to the team’s blue line corps and provide options as Chiarot is a 20-plus minute d-man who can be played in multiple situations.
Chiarot Was a Popular, But Risky Option
Despite some down numbers in Montreal, Chiarot was a player many teams had kicked tires on. The question was whether or not he’d earn the Canadiens a first-round draft selection as part of the return. In fact, as the deadline grew closer and more teams became interested, it was believed the Canadiens could get quite the package — at least a first and maybe a prospect as well.
Would he be worth it? As a pending UFA, he is purely a rental and there is thought he’ll test free agency and go to the highest bidder. That means he’s expected to come in and contribute right away. It’s the type of deal where it could work out well and Chiarot becomes a piece that puts the Florida over the top, or he’s not a big difference-maker and the Panthers gave up a lot for a player that isn’t sticking around.
There was also the small matter of his being injured and while he’d been eating a ton of minutes for the Canadiens, he wasn’t exactly knocking it out of the park. With seven goals and 18 points in 54 games played, Chiarot was also a plus/minus – 18. Much of that, however, was a result of him playing on a very bad Canadiens’ team that only started to get better under new coach Martin St. Louis.
On February 17, Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic wrote:
Without Shea Weber’s help, Chiarot’s game has crumbled with a putrid 41.6 percent expected goals rate and an even uglier 31.6 percent of the actual goals. On a terrible team, both are somehow below the team average. For teams hoping for his ‘defensive’ prowess, no Canadiens defender gives up more chances against than Chiarot’s 3.08 expected goals against per 60.source – ’16 Stats: Can anyone stop Colorado? Buyer beware for Ben Chiarot? And how about those surging Flames?’ – Dom Luszczyszyn – The Athletic 02/17/2022
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”