Panthers’ Should Make a Run for Ben Chiarot

The Florida Panthers are one of the league’s best. They are currently tied for first, honing a record of 29-9-5 with 63 points through 43 games played. With that in mind, Florida is extremely likely to be a lock for the postseason. However, like all teams, they have some problems. For Florida, it is their defensive pairings. The third duo is constantly going through changes and it seems as if someone new is playing every single night.

As a result, they may need to pick up a defensive option that could finally lock up that bottom pairing. Since rumors are spreading around about him potentially being dealt, a really good option in this instance would the be the hard-hitting defenseman from the Montreal Canadiens in Ben Chiarot.

Chiarot’s History with the Canadiens

After spending six seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, he signed a three-year deal as a free agent with Montreal. Since that day, he’s been a staple for the Canadiens’ defense. He’s had 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) through three seasons with the team and he helped lead them to the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2021. What he lacks in points, he makes up for in hitting. In his first season with the Habs, he registered 152 hits. The following season, he played the body 77 times. Currently, he has 88 hits this season.

Related: Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau Should be a Hart Trophy Candidate

So, with the lack of point production, why should the Panthers take a chance on him?

He’d Have Good Defensive Partners to Elevate his Game

Chiarot coming to town would mean a way better defensive structure for him. He’d have just as much of a physical presence with a teammate like Radko Gudas and some offensive firepower with Aaron Ekblad. In addition, it would fix the revolving door on the third defensive pairing and would more than likely lock him in for a spot.

Ben Chiarot Montreal Canadiens
Ben Chiarot has played with the Montreal Canadiens for the last three seasons, but may see himself out the door soon. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After being on a struggling defense that seems to be heading towards a rebuild, It would be a breath of fresh air for the 30-year-old defenseman.

He’s on a Cheap Expiring Deal

Chiarot is currently on the final season of his three-year, $3.5 million per year deal. With the Canadiens needing to shed all possible cap, getting his contracts off of the books will be a good start. Additionally, assuming he does not come back next year, it will be more worth it if the Habs can get something for his services as opposed to simply letting him walk in free agency. Furthermore, if the move does not work out, the salary was not that big of a blow and Florida does not have to re-sign him to a new contract. It’s a potential win-win for both sides.

Who Could Florida Give Up?

Florida currently has an abundance of forwards with the success of their current lines. With a bunch of them being healthy scratches, it does not seem too farfetched to deal a few of them away.

Related: History of the Florida Panthers Captains

Over the summer, Frank Vatrano has been at the attention of rumors of him being dealt at some point as he’s on an expiring deal himself. In addition, some of their draft picks may never play any time with Florida, so they might deal away some names such as Grigori Denisenko or Zac Dalpe.

Will Zito Make it Happen?

General manager Bill Zito made magic happen last deadline by acquiring Sam Bennett and Brandon Montour, both of whom were struggling with their current organizations. Now, they have helped the Panthers propel to last season’s playoffs and gave them a push for this season for a potential Presidents’ Trophy. If there is anyone in the NHL that can take a chance on someone and help them turn their career around, it’s Zito. It could work wonders for Chiarot by getting him a breath of fresh air with the South Florida lifestyle and winning ways. Until a qualifying offer is made from Montreal or Florida, we will just have to wait and see what happens next.

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