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Montreal Canadiens’ Chiarot Trade Return Has Potential To Be Even Better



Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens’ return for Ben Chiarot was seen as a major win in the moment, but the Florida Panthers’ quick exit makes the price they paid for the deal look even better.

When the Canadiens traded Ben Chiarot to the Panthers ahead of the NHL Trade deadline, there was uncertainty regarding whether or not a team would meet their high price tag for the veteran defenceman. The talk of seeing Chiarot return a 1st round pick and another asset had gained traction, but many doubted he would be worth that kind of return given his inconsistent underlying numbers. When it was announced that Ben Chiarot returned an unprotected 2023 1st round pick, a 2022 4th round pick and prospect Ty Smilanic, the majority of the hockey world saw this as a major win for the Canadiens, as they seemingly took advantage of Florida’s desire to go all in.

With the Panthers now eliminated from playoff contention in convincing fashion by the Tampa Bay Lightning, their 2023 1st-round pick becomes increasingly interesting. It would not be outlandish to see the Panthers’ general manager Bill Zito attempt to be aggressive this summer to help the Panthers shore up the left side of their defence, as well as address some playoff-proven secondary scoring issues at the top of their lineup. However, in the past, we’ve seen teams try to be aggressive to bounce back and fail miserably in the process; thereby finishing far lower in the standings the following year.


Florida’s Urgency Could Benefit Montreal Canadiens

One simply needs to look at teams like the Ottawa Senators in 2017-2018. They were a goal away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals in the spring of 2017, and were then very aggressive in trying to improve their team in the offseason and early on in the season to try and put the team over the edge. Even after the major acquisition of Matt Duchene, the Senators bombed that season and finished with 67 points in 82 games, good for 2nd to last in the NHL. The Duchene trade forced the Ottawa Senators into a bad spot, as their 1st round pick now belonged to the Colorado Avalanche, with the Senators having the option to surrender their 2018 or 2019 1st round pick depending on their preference. In the end, the Ottawa Senators’ 1st round picks in 2018 and 2019 both landed at 4th overall. They chose to keep their pick in 2018 to pick Brady Tkachuk and surrendered their 2019 1st round pick, which the Avalanche used to draft defenceman Bowen Byram.

With the Canadiens owning an unprotected 1st round pick for the 2023 NHL Draft, there’s a high likelihood of seeing urgent tinkering on an already deep roster; which might result in a step back for the Florida Panthers. The comparisons to the 2017-2018 Ottawa Senators are all there: limited Cap space, key UFA contract upcoming, a defence that will need retooling and very few assets available to help improve. In the process of loading up for the 2022 NHL Playoffs, the Panthers do not own a 1st round pick until 2025 at the earliest and, barring any additional trades, will pick once in the top-64 of an NHL Draft once in the next three years.

The Panthers’ Bill Zito will have a very interesting summer in front of them, but the looming risk of having gift-wrapped the Montreal Canadiens a much higher pick than previously anticipated will weigh heavily in the background. This is a make-or-break summer for the Panthers, and any faltering on their part will be a welcomed sight for the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge.

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That’s why Boucher is on TV instead of behind a bench!

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