Panthers Overpay, But Get Physicality and Playoff Experience in Chiarot

On Wednesday, March 16, Florida Panthers general manager, Bill Zito once again worked the phones and brought in defenseman Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens. The assets sent to Montreal included a conditional first round pick in 2023, a fourth round pick in 2022 and prospect Ty Smilanic. In addition, the Canadiens will eat half of Chiarot’s salary. Although this seems like a drastic overpayment, the Panthers get exactly what they wanted.

Career Outlook of Chiarot

Drafted back in 2009 by the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, Chiarot has been in the league for quite some time. He got his first NHL start on Nov. 2, 2014, having a total ice time of 10:47. Since then, he’s played a total of 305 games for Winnipeg, scoring 12 goals and assisting on 52 others. Furthermore, he would suit up for the playoffs for the Jets in 24 games, tallying three assists.

Related: Ben Chiarot Traded to the Florida Panthers

On July 24, 2019, he signed a new contract with the Canadiens worth $3.5 Million a year for three years. In three seasons and 164 games, he piled up 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists). Along with putting up decent regular-season numbers, he was great in the dance for the Habs, dressing for 32 postseason games.

Ben Chiarot Montreal Canadiens
Ben Chiarot, former Montreal Canadien (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Most notably, he was a force last postseason and helped lead the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final as he led the team in average time on ice that series with nearly 26 minutes a game. They would end up losing that series 4-1, but it gave him valuable experience.

How Will This Work Out for Florida?

For some people, this could be seen as a head-scratcher as his analytics aren’t that great. Despite that, he will fit like a glove for the Panthers thanks to his physicality and playoff experience.

Physicality is Needed for the Playoffs

Chiarot’s playstyle is extremely physical and gritty. For the playoffs, this is a must-have for any team as those games tend to get dirty and out of hand quickly. He’s shown that he’s willing to go to those nasty areas and play a little rough, which fits in with guys like Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Lomberg.

Playoff Experience

Chiarot was brought in mainly due to the 56 career games of playoff experience he has, including five games of Stanley Cup Final play. With that, he can use the valuable lessons he learned in the upcoming dance and use the skills he learned to pass down to the younger players or those who haven’t had a lot of experience. It’s a win-win for him and the team.

“Ben is a solid veteran defenseman that will bring both experience and size to our blue line,” Zito said. “Having reached the Stanley Cup Final with Montreal last season, he is a player that knows what it takes to make a deep playoff run, which is what our organization is striving for in these next few months.”

Bill Zito

Was the Huge Price Tag Worth It?

As previously mentioned, Zito threw a first-rounder, fourth-rounder and a prospect on the table to acquire Chiarot. This is definitely a steep bill for sure as this throws away another first round selection for the Panthers and their next one will not be until 2024.

Related: Panthers Trade Vatrano to Rangers

However, it shows that Zito is going all-in on this year. With the success they’ve had this season, posting 88 points through 60 games, Florida could use the extra help at the deadline to make that big push. With everything coming up for the Panthers, this move could pay massive dividends for them. And the best part is that Zito is far from done. They’re still looking to acquire Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. These deadline acquisitions are gonna create massive ripples across the NHL and everyone should have the Panthers on their radar.


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