It was only a matter of time before the Habs traded Ben Chiarot and that move happened on Wednesday as Montreal traded him to Florida. In exchange, the Habs pick up Florida’s 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick, and prospect Ty Smilanic. The Canadiens are picking up half of Chiarot’s $3.5 million price tag as part of the move.
Chiarot was Montreal’s best trade chip among their pending unrestricted free agent and had several suitors for his services. That allowed GM Kent Hughes to get what is a pretty solid return, one that’s very similar to what Tampa Bay ultimately paid to get David Savard at the deadline last year.
The 30-year-old has had to shoulder a heavy load this season with the departure of Shea Weber due to injury and Jeff Petry’s early struggles. As a result, he’s logging 23:33, a new career high while chipping in with 18 points, 91 blocks, and 110 hits in 54 games. His departure should mean a bigger role for Alexander Romanov down the stretch, certainly ideal for him as he hits restricted free agency for the first time this summer. Joel Edmundson will also be asked to take a fairly hefty workload once he has worked his way into playing shape after only making his season debut on Saturday.
Smilanic, meanwhile, was a third-round pick back in 2020 after he slid down the draft board a little bit. We actually picked him to go to the Canadiens in our own Mock Draft that year where we had him going 47th overall. He was projected as a longer-term bottom-six forward at that time and through his first two seasons at Quinnipiac, that still feels like an accurate projection. The 20-year-old has played at both centre and the wing and had 13 goals and nine assists in 38 games this season while also being selected to play at the World Juniors before that tournament was postponed to this summer.
On the picks side, there is a bit of housekeeping to note there. Florida’s first-round is unprotected but is technically subject to an element of an earlier trade. If they were to collapse, miss the playoffs, and pick in the top ten this year, Florida would keep their 2022 pick and trade this 2023 selection to Buffalo. It’s not going to happen but it technically has that restriction on it. As for the fourth-rounder this year, it will be the lower of the picks from the Rangers and Jets and was only moved to the Panthers earlier in the day as part of the Frank Vatrano trade.
As a result of the swap, Montreal now has an extra contract slot for the time being which brings them down to 46. They also have an extra roster spot open which, coupled with the expected departure of Mathieu Perreault on Thursday (either to Laval or to someone on waivers), gives them the chance to activate two players from IR. Of course, they’re down to just six healthy defencemen on the roster so they may want to bring one up from Laval with the healthy options to choose from being Xavier Ouellet, Louis Belpedio, and Sami Niku.