Upgrading the left side of the defence was a key item on Marc Bergevin’s to-do list this summer. He took a step towards doing so with the signing of Ben Chiarot to a three-year, $10.5 million contract. The deal also contains a ten-team no-trade clause for each season.
The 28-year-old is coming off a career year with Winnipeg. After being more of a role player, he stepped into a full-time spot in 2018-19 and spent a good chunk of the season on the second pairing. Not surprisingly, he put up career numbers across the board, collecting 20 points in 78 games while averaging 18:37 per night of ice time. Chiarot also averaged more than two hits per night and added 139 blocked shots.
In essence, he will be asked to play the role that Karl Alzner was initially designated to perform by providing some defensive stability on the back end. With the signing, Alzner’s return to Laval for next season seems like a foregone conclusion at this point with seven other players on one-way contracts already ahead of him on the depth chart. (This could also wind up pushing Noah Juulsen to Laval to start the year as well.)
While Chiarot will certainly be an upgrade on the back end, he’s also not going to be the top pairing option that the team still badly covets. It’s a pricey contract for someone that doesn’t have a lengthy track record of NHL success so there is some risk here but it is a small improvement.
With the signing, the Habs now have 43 players under contract plus four more restricted free agents to re-sign. Accordingly, assuming that all of them are re-signed and that Bergevin wants to keep a few contract slots open for in-season moves, there may not be much more action from the Canadiens this summer. After dealing Andrew Shaw and Nicolas Deslauriers over the weekend, their next move, if any, would probably be to bring a winger in.