Six potential trade destinations for Canadiens’ Ben Chiarot

Ben Chiarot has quickly become one of the most in-demand trade targets in the NHL, and it’s easy to see why.

The Montreal Canadiens defenceman fits the prototype perfectly. He’s big, plays a physical game, and has performed very well in just about every situation on a team that otherwise … well … hasn’t. He can play on both sides of the blue line (though the left-shot suits up most often on the left), and plays a smart net-front game.

And while he’s not necessarily known for his offence, he’s also been putting up strong numbers there – especially of late, upping his trade value with every outing. He’s a proven performer in the playoffs, as we’ve seen in the past two years. Last spring, he was a major driving force in the club’s Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final, starring alongside Shea Weber in the top pairing of a team that seemed to shut down opponents with ease.

And then there’s his cap hit. Coming in at $3.5 million, the pending UFA is one of the more affordable options for teams in search of top-four d-men who are pure rentals. Of course, that does drive up the asking price.

Reports are indicating that it’ll cost at least a first-round pick to land Chiarot’s services down the stretch.

That’s the floor, and it’s on par with what the Tampa Bay Lightning paid for then-Columbus Blue Jacket (and current Montreal Canadien) David Savard last spring. The Lightning traded a first- and a third-round pick to Columbus and also sent a fourth-rounder to the Detroit Red Wings, who retained a quarter of the cap hit. (That cost also covered the Blue Jackets’ retaining of half of Savard’s hit, resulting in the Lightning paying just a quarter of his AAV.)

The Canadiens are not being coy about his availability. It’s not a matter of if they trade the pending UFA but when. And considering he’s back from a recent injury and is playing some of his best hockey, they’d be smart to move him as soon as they can.

“There’s a lot of exploring that goes into this type of process. I’m guessing teams are trying to understand what the cost of Chiarot is versus another potential option and they’re going to make their decisions,” Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes told Sportsnet’s Eric Engels in a Q&A earlier this week. “Conversely, we would look and compare different options of what fits best for us.”

It’s worth noting that Chiarot does have a modified no-trade clause, which allows him to submit a 10-team list of destinations he’s not willing to go to. It’s unlikely that’ll factor in much here, as he’s guaranteed to go somewhere with a strong shot to win.

A gritty defender who can play top-pairing minutes and knows what it takes to be one of two teams left standing? You can sign a lot of franchises up for that – close to 16, in fact. So, with that in mind, and in hopes of narrowing things down, here are six teams that could be the best fits to land Chiarot based on need, perceived fit, return and latest reports.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Though there’s plenty of speculation about whether the Leafs should be trying to bring in another goaltender before the deadline, general manager Kyle Dubas made it clear to reporters last week that the blue line is priority No. 1. Does that change with Thursday’s news of Jack Campbell’s injury? The netminder is to be sidelined for the next two pivotal weeks.

In addition to plenty of speculation in net, Toronto is going be linked to every defenceman available from now until 3 p.m. ET on March 21 – including, of course, Ducks star Hampus Lindholm.

Author: Lucy Green