The dominoes began to fall on the NHL trade market for defencemen Monday and that may mean Ben Chiarot has played his last game in a Montreal Canadiens uniform or is close to it.
On Monday night, the Arizona Coyotes announced defenceman Jakob Chychrun will miss two to four weeks with a lower-body injury after Derek Forbort of the Boston Bruins hit Chychrun into the boards Saturday night. Chychrun was the most coveted defenceman until Monday, and the Arizona Coyotes are now likely going to delay any potential trade to the offseason, as it makes little sense for a contender to acquire him.
Chychrun wasn’t the only valuable defenceman to be taken off the NHL trade market Monday. There were rumblings that after the news was released on Chychrun’s health that it would set off some dominoes in the trade market, and that’s precisely what ended up happening. Almost as soon as Chychrun was ruled out for potentially up to a month, the Anaheim Ducks announced they had traded 30-year-old, right-shot defenseman Josh Manson to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2023 2nd round pick and prospect Drew Helleson. This was the first rental trade before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, and it will likely get the rental market rolling.
Manson is a top-4 right-shot defenceman, a rare commodity on the trade market, and likely sets the price point for what top-4 defencemen will go for on the rental market leading up to NHL Trade Deadline. Manson has battled injuries over the last three seasons, and his play has dipped over that span, but he is still a serviceable, two-way and physical rearguard who should fit right in with the Avalanche.
Chiarot is likely worth just as much, if not more than Manson, in the eyes of general managers across the league due to his similar style of play but even more so to contenders for his role in the Canadiens run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final and overall playoff experience. He’s also had higher offensive output (7g, 11a, 55 games) than Manson (4g, 5a, 45 games), this season. This can only make the trade value benchmark even higher for Chiarot.
— NHL (@NHL) March 4, 2022
Ben Chiarot had already garnered interest from over half a dozen teams across the league and came very close to being moved over the weekend. Still, recent events are likely to turn up the heat on trade talks. With Chiarot is in the final year of his contract at $3.5M, the Canadiens have already and openly stated to potential trade partners that they’re willing to retain 50% of his salary for the remainder of the season.
The Canadiens have maintained that they will trade him as well, and the price has been reportedly very high right from the start: A 1st round pick + an asset.
Their price point is in line with past top-4 defensemen being moved at the trade deadline, most recently David Savard, who was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 1st and 3rd round picks.
The Canadiens believe, and rightfully so, that Chiarot is more than worth his price tag and feel confident in waiting out potential buyers until they panic, shortly before the NHL Trade Deadline. The belief around the league was that buying teams wanted to wait out the Canadiens to see if they’d eventually lower their price as the NHL Trade Deadline crept closer, but that may be a strategy that could be backfiring now.