The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and the rest of the Canadiens defense.
The NHL Trade Deadline is made for players like Ben Chiarot. At least it has been in recent years. A useful enough player if used correctly in the right role, but also one that is going to spark baffling interest around the league and leave people scratching their heads wondering why their team is willing to move so much for a player that is probably not really a difference maker.
Every year there is one of them. Remember the year Paul Gaustad got moved for a first-round pick? Or all of the picks Tampa Bay moved for David Savard? Same sorta thing here.
This season has not gone according to play for the Canadiens as they have followed a stunning Stanley Cup Final run with a season that has put them at the bottom of the NHL standings, resulting in sweeping changes throughout the organization. They have already made one significant trade by sending Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames, and there should be more moves to be made. There is probably nobody that is off limits in trade talks over the next month, but Chiarot seems like an obvious candidate to move given his status as a pending unrestricted free agent after this season. As well as the fact so many teams seem to have an interest in him.
Chiarot is not going to provide much in the way of offense, but plays a ton of minutes and is highly thought of around the league for his defensive play and toughness. The problem is there are very few defensive metrics that actually back up that assessment.
If you are looking at the Canadiens as a trade target, Jeff Petry (with multiple years remaining on his deal) and another pending free agent, Brett Kulak, rate much more favorably defensively and (at least in Petry’s case) offer more value offensively.
But it seems to already be determined that Chiarot is the guy everybody wants to trade for, so here we go.
What the return might look like
This is a tricky one because as mentioned above players like this tend to go for more than you might think because they somehow become highly sought after players. A bidding war starts, two or three teams all become convinced they need his presence on defense, and suddenly you are giving up a first-round pick for Ben Chiarot! Will the price get that high? It easily could! And if it does not climb to a first-round pick it could certainly be for a similarly valued prospect or multiple picks (a second and a third? A second and two fourths?).
Petry might cost more in terms of assets given his contract, but I would bet Kulak goes for less than both of them and would make a bigger positive impact on his next team than Chiarot will.
The most logical landing spots
• Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers
Something weird has happened with Toronto over the past couple of years where they seem to be targeting players that they never would have looked at in the early stages of this core group’s rise up the standings, while being willing to pay fairly significant prices for it. There is always a fascinating dynamic to a potential Toronto-Montreal trade, but it is worth wondering if the recent goalie struggles shift their focus to that position instead of a blue line upgrade. They also have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller.
The Bruins could use an upgrade on defense, but scoring depth might take precedence over that. And if they really want go for defense, they should load up and swing for the fences with Jakob Chychrun.
St. Louis has a very potent offense but has needed some additional depth on defense since the offseason following the departure of Vince Dunn to Seattle in the expansion draft.
Then there are the Rangers. They have an elite goalie, a couple of elite forwards, and the reigning Norris Trophy winner on defense. But they have some major depth questions and tend to give up a lot of shots and chances for a contender. They almost certainly will want to cut down on that, and Chiarot seems to fit the mold of the type of player the new front office seems to be wanting to target (at least based on their offseason moves like Ryan Reaves, Barclay Goodrow, Patrik Nemeth, and Samuel Blais).
Wild Card team: Calgary Flames
The Flames do not really need Chiarot, but they have had an interest in him, have already dealt with Montreal once this trade season (Tyler Toffoli) and are not afraid to add physical defenders to their lineup (Erik Gudbranson, Nikita Zadorov). Head coach Darryl Sutter seems to love players like that on his defense.
Spot I want to see just for fun: Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers would be fun just because it would be the perfect Oilers trade where they lack a basic understanding of what they actually do need (definitely a goalie; depth scoring at forward; a puck-moving defenseman) and give up assets for the absolute wrong player.
NHL Trade Deadline prediction
Chiarot goes to the Rangers for a first-round pick while another team (I am going to say Carolina or Minnesota) quietly sneaks under the radar, snags Kulak for far less, and gets a better player.