The St. Louis Blues‘ biggest need at the trade deadline is a defenseman to bolster the back-end, but with salary cap issues, they may be prone to overpay for whoever they try to get. Ben Chiarot is near the top of the list for possible defensemen for them to make a move for.
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The Blues have multiple cap issues, meaning that a hockey trade could be in order, trading somebody like Marco Scandella for another defenseman of similar value. I’m not sure that’s enough to improve the team, so the Blues need to move some draft capital as well.
Not a Major Upgrade to What They Have
Chiarot is a more productive player than Scandella is, he’s likely a better defender as well, but I don’t see this as a major upgrade. While he’s been much better in the last couple of weeks, he has still struggled overall in the last two regular seasons.
It’s been a struggle for Chiarot this season, his expected goals for is 38.9, which measures where shots came from when he is on the ice. On the flip side, his expected goals against number is ugly, sitting at 50.5, which is as bad as it’s been in his career. With these two stats, it can be measured with expected plus/minus, which means that Chiarot’s is minus-11.6. His worst expected plus/minus of his career is minus-6.1, so it’s been a less than ideal season for Chiarot, but the Montreal Canadiens‘ struggles have contributed to this.
The good things that Chiarot brings to the table are experience and familiarity. He’s played 56 career playoff games, including the run to the Stanley Cup with Montreal last season, and he spent six seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, a familiar foe. There are positives and negatives with Chiarot, but it’s too much inconsistency to make a major play for him.
The Reported Asking Price is Too High
The Canadiens’ new regime in the front office wants to make up for some of the prior mistakes by the previous regime. They are reportedly looking for a first-round pick and prospect for Chiarot, which is patently ridiculous, and the Blues appear to know that. I don’t see the Blues being duped into paying this price, but I’ve seen much crazier things happen in the NHL.
The Blues don’t have a second-round pick in this upcoming draft, so giving up their first-round pick would be costly for a player who clearly isn’t a major upgrade. When it comes to prospects they could give up, there is no planet where it would be worth moving Jake Neighbours or Zachary Bolduc for Chiarot, that just doesn’t make sense. They are prospects and we don’t know what they’ll be, especially Bolduc, but I don’t find this to be worth it.
There Are Other Options
There are certainly other options for the Blues, while they would likely need to give up more, they represent larger upgrades than Chiarot. Whether it’s Mark Giordano from the Seattle Kraken or a shocker in Ivan Provorov from the Philadelphia Flyers. I don’t see Jakob Chychrun being a player that the Blues will acquire, the price will be sky-high.
Giordano would be a nice fit, a true veteran presence, and leader, and he’s just a few seasons removed from winning a Norris trophy with the Calgary Flames. The interesting thing with Giordano is that he would be tied for third among Blues defensemen in points scored this season with 23, many folks haven’t seen him as an offensive presence over the last couple of seasons.
Provorov would be the slam dunk pickup, but it seems unlikely. If the Flyers are interested in moving him, Provorov is 25 years old and has been a productive, two-way defenseman for them since getting there. The Blues should absolutely make Provorov their number one deadline target if he is on the block, it doesn’t seem likely, but nothing is impossible with next week’s deadline.
The bottom line is that it would be stunning if the Blues don’t acquire a defenseman at this deadline, and there are many options. But they can’t overpay for a player like Chiarot, or any other player, their situation doesn’t allow for them to do that. I expect general manager Doug Armstrong to be aggressive in his pursual of a target, and he must be trusted to not overpay for who they acquire, he’s earned that trust.