Canadiens News & Rumors: Chiarot, Weber, Letang, and More

In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, general manager Kent Hughes confirmed that Ben Chiarot will be moved before the Trade Deadline on Mar. 21, and he may also look to trade Shea Weber’s contract.

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Plus, Michael McNiven is now a member of the Calgary Flames, the Habs have hired Adam Nicholas to lead the team’s player development department, and Kris Letang addresses the rumors swirling about his interest in joining the Canadiens as a free agent this summer.

Hughes Will Trade Chiarot Before the Deadline

In a Q & A with Eric Engels published on Tuesday by Sportsnet, Hughes confirmed that he will trade Chiarot over the next two weeks despite Montreal’s improved play with interim head coach Martin St. Louis behind the bench. It is well-known that the pending unrestricted free agent defenceman is generating a lot of interest and should net the Habs a high-quality return for his services.

Ben Chiarot Montreal Canadiens
Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In the interview, Hughes also confirmed that he will move Jeff Petry if and when the right offer comes along. He indicated that he is not actively shopping Artturi Lehkonen, but that doesn’t mean he’s not getting phone calls inquiring about the versatile forward’s availability.

Montreal May Move Weber’s Contract

During this weekend’s “32 Thoughts” segment on Hockey Night in Canada, Elliotte Friedman indicated that he wouldn’t be surprised if some teams who either need long-term injury room or who are looking to get to the cap floor will approach the Canadiens to acquire Weber’s contract which has four years remaining on it after this one.

Related: Canadiens Should Remove St. Louis’ Interim Tag

Montreal’s captain has been on long-term injured reserves since the start of the 2021-22 season and is not expected to play in the NHL again.

Shea Weber Montreal Canadiens
Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Friedman also said that the 2022 NHL Entry Draft should be held in Montreal as originally planned given that the province of Quebec has loosened its COVID-19 restrictions.

McNiven Traded to Calgary

Last week, Hughes completed his second trade in a matter of weeks with the Flames, sending McNiven to Calgary for future considerations. This move appears to be the completion of the Tyler Toffoli trade since the former Habs’ goaltender was initially supposed to be part of the deal, but he was injured when it was completed.

McNiven, who appeared in 82 career games with the Laval Rocket from 2017-18 to 2021-22, recently voiced his displeasure about his place in the organization and the lack of opportunities he had been given so a fresh start was needed for both sides.

Michael McNiven Montreal Canadiens
Michael McNiven is now a member of the Calgary Flames.
(Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the newly acquired Andrew Hammond now on injured reserve, the Habs might have been wise to hang on to McNiven for a little while longer.

Habs Hire Adam Nicholas

Hughes and Jeff Gorton continue to fill out Montreal’s new-look hockey operations team after adding Nicholas to the fold as Director of hockey development.

Related: Canadiens Need To Stick To Rebuild Despite Recent Wins

Before joining the Canadiens, Nicholas had been working with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a skills development consultant since 2019. He also held a similar role with the Chicago Steel from 2019 to 2022 and worked with Habs prospect Sean Farrell during that time.

Nicholas is also the founder and owner of Stride Envy, a company that specializes in player skill development, specifically skating techniques.

Letang Addresses Habs Rumors

Since Pierre LeBrun reported that the Canadiens will be aggressive in free agency summer, rumors have run rampant about who they might target in July. One name that continually comes up is Letang. He has strong ties with Hughes, he would be a great fit on the Habs’ blue line, he was born in Montreal and has made it known that he would consider signing with his hometown team.

Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ star defender recently addressed the rumors, saying that he’s used to the noise and that he’s taking it in stride. It’s hard to imagine Letang wearing another jersey, but it would be a cool story if he came home to finish his career in Montreal.

What’s Next for the Canadiens?

Winners of seven of their last eight games, the Canadiens continue to look like a team transformed with St. Louis behind the bench. They’ll complete their Western Canadian road trip on Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks after completing an Alberta sweep over the weekend. Several injured players have joined the team in Vancouver to continue their rehab and the players took advantage of their extended stay in the city to host their rookie dinner. Meanwhile, Carey Price is back on the ice in Brossard rehabbing his injured knee after spending the last few weeks in the gym. He still hopes to play this season.  

Ending this week’s column with well-wishes and positive vibes for Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur who spent a short time in the hospital a few days ago as he continues to fight cancer.