In one of the larger trades ahead of the 2022 NHL trade deadline, the Montreal Canadiens shipped defenseman Ben Chiarot to the Florida Panthers. In exchange for Chiarot, the Canadiens received a 2023 first-round pick, a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft and prospect Ty Smilanic, who the Panthers selected in the third-round of the 2020 NHL Draft.
Let’s take a look at how the trade breaks down for each team.
Canadians Ben Chiarot Trade To Panthers Grade
Currently leading the Eastern Conference in points percentage, Florida has been a force this season while competing in a tough Atlantic Division. It’s clear the Panthers are looking to make a deep run and given their moves at the deadline, they’re willing to win at just about all costs.
With Chiarot, they’re getting a very strong defender who’s capable of playing big minutes and taking on tough matchups. He’s not going to add much offense but we saw just how effective he can be in the postseason, playing a huge role in the Canadiens getting to the Stanley Cup Finals last year.
A lot of people won’t like the price the Panthers paid to acquire him – and we’ll get to that. However, if Florida’s goal is to contend for a Cup this year and they’re willing to go all in, Chiarot is going to be a significant help on the blue line for the playoff run. He also shouldn’t be counted on for as much with the Panthers and reducing his usage even a little bit would likely only help to maximize his effectiveness.
That said, there are some key flaws in this trade for the Panthers, regarding the first-round pick. With to the Panthers having already dealt their first-round pick in this year’s draft to the Buffalo Sabers for Sam Reinhart last summer, the pick in this deal is for 2023 instead. It’s a huge risk to give up a pick a year out, given that we’ve seen how uncertain the league can be – the Vegas Golden Knights were projected as potential Cup favorites and are now in serious danger of missing the playoffs altogether.
Then add on that this is an unprotected pick in what should be an extremely strong draft class. If the Panthers stumble next season, they could be giving up a potential franchise player. This isn’t looking any better with the fact that Chiarot is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and it’s highly likely the Panthers are just using him as a rental for a single playoff run.
The sheer number of assets the Panthers gave away at the deadline is troubling and based on their salary cap outlook, they won’t be able to retain all pieces for next season. If Florida wins a Cup this year, general manager Bill Zito may come out looking great. If not, Florida’s deadline decisions could haunt them in the years that follow.
The Canadians were a lock to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline and the expectation was that Chiarot would be dealt. The defender is turning 31 years old in May and given where the organization is at, trading Chiarot made far more sense for Montreal than re-signing him.
Similar to the issues with this deal for the Panthers, the value of this trade for the Canadians rests in the first-round pick. If the Panthers are still a top team next year and go on a deep 2023 playoff run, the return for Chiarot is still fine. However, the potential upside of the pick not being protected is huge.
It’s unlikely the Panthers slip that far but the Eastern Conference has has eight very strong teams right now and if the New York Islanders rebound or the Detroit Red Wings continue to progress, it isn’t impossible the Panthers could end up in a bad spot. Nobody expected it to be an issue with the San Jose Sharks and the Erik Karlsson trade but we know how that turned out.
So to get that kind of upside in a deal for a 30-year-old defenseman who’s eligible to test free agency, the Canadians did great here.
Again, chances are that the Panthers are still a quality team next season and the first-round selection ends up being somewhere in the 20s of the 2023 NHL Draft. That said, it’s still a deep draft and given the circumstances, that in itself makes this a good return.
Where the trade becomes lopsided though is in the possibilities that come with no protection on the first-round pick. Even if it’s unlikely, this could possibly land the Canadians with a top star and could leave the Panthers in a disastrous spot, all for a rental player whose impact comes almost exclusively in his own end.
This is a trade we’ll need to revisit in about a year’s time, to get a better idea of the impact it could have on each team.