With NHL Trade Deadline fast approaching, Ben Chiarot’s trade value just keeps increasing with every game he plays. His most recent three-point performance against the Calgary Flames likely grabbed the attention of buyers as the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline on March 21 approaches.
The veteran defenseman has been an absolute horse for the Canadiens since they signed him in the summer of 2019, but he has really turned it on over the last 16 months. This isn’t to say he’s a bonafide top-pair defenseman, but he’s most certainly at the peak of his value as a player, and that is great news for general manager Kent Hughes leading up to the NHL trade deadline. There’s a lot to unpack on what aspects of Chiarot’s recent play have improved his NHL trade value around the league in relation to other rental defensemen. His leadership, the number of minutes he can play, his versatility and his underrated offensive ability are being put on full display, and we break it down for you below.
— David 🔹 (@DaveyUpper) March 3, 2022
Chiarot’s Top Pair Usage
In the absence of captain Shea Weber and the slow start to Jeff Petry’s season, Chiarot has taken on a lot of the load on the defensive brigade. He’s been the de facto #1 defenseman for the club, playing well over 23 minutes a game on most nights.
Since Martin St. Louis was appointed head coach, Chiarot’s responsibilities on the back end have further increased, despite the improved play of Petry. In his last six games, Chiarot has played an average of 24:20 minutes and is utilized in every possible situation.
i am not against bringing ben chiarot home. muzzin and chiarot would be terrifying together. he’s a great hitter, he was the habs best shut down d man behind weber. he’d fit right in pic.twitter.com/X0I7un8uHd
— jen (@tavmarnythews) January 25, 2022
Showcasing on the Right Side
On top of playing over 24 minutes a night on a regular basis under St. Louis, Chiarot is being asked to play on the right side despite being a left-handed defenseman. It’s rare to see a defenseman’s game not suffer when playing on their offside, as the adjustment often requires the player to adapt his positioning and transitional methods to move the puck optimally.
Not only has Chiarot shown an ability to play both sides in the past, but, in his most recent play on the right side, he has thrived. That kind of versatility is extremely valuable to a contending team looking to go far in the NHL playoffs. Leading up to the NHL Trade deadline, you can bet that teams, like the Edmonton Oilers, who were in attendance in Winnipeg on Tuesday night, have taken notice of Chiarot’s play over the last few weeks.
— NHL (@NHL) March 4, 2022
Offensive Success under St. Louis
Chiarot has never been known as an overly offensive defenseman; he doesn’t necessarily have the aptitude for it and coaches prefer to deploy him in defensive situations. This has seemingly changed this year, with Chiarot getting consistent powerplay time for the first time since he signed in Montreal. Having been shown this confidence all season, Chiarot is on pace for his best season statistical season, especially in the goal column, despite a lacklustre season in general from the Montreal Canadiens.
Since St. Louis was brought on, his encouragement of a more open has allowed the Canadiens to express themselves a little more offensively. It’s undoubtedly helped Petry find his offensive touch again, but few could have predicted that Chiarot would also catch fire offensively. Chiarot has posted six points in his last six games since returning from a minor ankle injury on Feb 20. That bodes extremely well for the Canadiens as the NHL trade deadline approaches, as Chiarot is proving he can do it all when given the opportunity.
A 1st Round Pick +?
Chiarot is almost certainly going to return the Canadiens a 1st round pick before the NHL trade deadline, especially if the Canadiens retain 50% of his $3.5M Cap hit. His excellent play mere days before the NHL trade deadline his attractively low Cap hit will have teams lining up once teams start feeling the need to improve in the coming days.
The question now is simply whether or not there will be an additional asset included in the deal, similarly to the David Savard trade between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning. In that deal, Savard netted the Blue Jackets a 1st round pick in 2021, and a 3rd round pick in 2022.
The priority for the Canadiens is to ensure they get maximum value for Chiarot as a rental, but if he keeps playing the way he has the last two weeks, they won’t have much work to do. Teams are calling Hughes on him regularly, and business is about to pick up.