Just over a month ago, the Calgary Flames acquired Tyler Toffoli from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 fifth-round pick, as well as Tyler Pitlick and prospect Emil Heineman. It was a big haul on its own but reportedly could have been even bigger as the two sides tried to find a way to work Habs defenceman Ben Chiarot into the deal as well.
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From the sounds of things, Flames general manager Brad Treliving believed that the price was too high at the time for Chiarot, so he chose to leave him out of the deal. Now, however, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Treliving and the rest of his management team are interested in the 30-year-old rearguard once again, while the Canadiens have their eyes set on one Flames prospect in particular.
Canadiens Highly Interested in Pelletier
LeBrun mentioned in a recent article for The Athletic that he has reason to believe the Canadiens are extremely interested in Jakob Pelletier and hinted at the fact that the Flames may need to give him up should they hope to acquire Chiarot. (from ‘Pierre LeBrun: Jakob Chychrun’s injury complicates deadline plans, latest on Ben Chiarot, Tomas Hertl and more’, The Athletic, 03/13/22).
One can certainly understand why the Canadiens management team would be highly interested in Pelletier. The 21-year-old, who was taken in the first-round (26th overall) of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, had several high-scoring seasons during his four-year junior hockey career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). That scoring has continued in his first year as a pro.
In 47 games with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, Pelletier is second on the team in goals with 20, as well as points with 46. It has been an incredible rookie campaign for a player who right now may be the top prospect in the Flames’ system. Even more fitting for the Canadiens is the fact that he was born and raised in Quebec, and would likely relish the opportunity to play close to home. With that being said, the Flames would be making a huge mistake moving him at this time.
Pelletier’s Value Much Higher Than Chiarot’s
If the only thing coming back for the Flames would be Chiarot, then this trade shouldn’t even be remotely considered by Treliving. Yes, this is a Stanley Cup contending team, and yes, teams with aspirations like the Flames often have to part with top prospects in order to improve their team at the deadline. This trade wouldn’t be that.
This isn’t meant as a knock on Chiarot, who is a solid player in his own right. Though he doesn’t produce much offensively, he is capable of playing in all situations, proven by the fact that he is averaging north of 23 minutes per game with the Habs this season. With that being said, the Flames already have a respectable top four, meaning he very well could end up being used on the team’s third pairing.
Moving your top prospect, one who appears to have star-studded potential, for a player who may not even be used in your top four is a very bad decision. Making it even worse is the fact that Chiarot is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and would likely hit free agency as the Flames have several other contracts they need to worry about this offseason. While bringing in another defenceman ahead of the deadline would be nice, this trade is one the Flames need to stay away from.
Pelletier a Potential Star in the Making for the Flames
Some have suggested that given the uncertainty surrounding Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk’s contract situations, the Flames need to go all in this year. That is a valid opinion, and perhaps with a higher impact player, this team could consider moving Pelletier. It wouldn’t make sense for Chiarot, however, who isn’t a game-breaker by any stretch and may not have much of an impact at all in the postseason.
Unless they are getting a stud blueliner in return, which seems highly unlikely, the Flames should not even consider moving Pelletier. If anything, this is a player you would want to keep around as a possible scoring replacement for Gaudreau and/or Tkachuk depending on how this summer plays out.
The Canadiens have made it clear for some time they are expecting a ton in return for Chiarot, as they should. Teams tend to get desperate at the deadline and often times overpay for rental players. This feels like a situation where a team who acquires the Habs defenceman could end up experiencing buyer’s remorse, and the Flames need to make sure it isn’t themselves.