Five Fantasies to Fix the Habs – The Chiarot Fantasy

Segue Issue 22-01

January 10, 2022

As we approach the trade deadline, the discussion around the Montreal Canadiens is about who will be moved and what will be the return. I’m joining that discussion with a new series I’m calling Five Fantasies to Fix the Habs. We’ll look at one fantasy at a time.

I’m calling them fantasies for a reason. I’m neither a GM nor an agent, so player valuation is not my forte. I will rely on suggestions made by analysts and pundits to pin down the value of various players. Then I’ll make a fantasy proposal that I think will contribute to fixing the Habs.

In creating these fantasies I’m considering two things. First, what are the biggest needs for the Habs? In my view they should be targeting a centre prospect with top-6 potential, a right-handed defenceman with top-4 potential, or a pure goal scorer. Second, which teams need what the Habs are offering the most, and would have the assets to make the best offer?

For my first issue in this series, I’m looking at Ben Chiarot.

The valuation…

On Thursday (January 6th) during Mike Johnson’s hit on Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 690, Joey Alfieri asked Johnson if there was a player on the Habs that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be interested in. His response was, “There’s only one guy.” He was referring to Ben Chiarot.

Johnson said the Leafs need a top-4 defenceman who can be reliable against elite forwards – he referenced Point and Kucherov – and “maybe Ben Chiarot fits that bill.” He also specified that the real need is a right shot, right side defenceman. We know that while Chiarot can play right side, he is a left shot. Johnson also suggested that the Leafs may be aiming higher than Chiarot. John Klingberg comes to mind.

Mitch Melnick had a follow up question. “What would your asking Price be for Ben Chiarot, from the Leafs specifically?” Johnson’s response was that he would ask for a first round pick and another piece. He said the Leafs would be unlikely to add a roster player like Timothy Liljegren and that Travis Dermott, or a lesser asset, would be a more realistic ask. Johnson landed on a first round pick and Dermott as the ask for Chiarot.

Mitch Gallo raised the possibility of some prospects who are first rounders, naming Rodion Amirov (15th, 2020), Liljegren (17th, 2017), Nick Robertson (53rd, 2019). Johnson responded that the Habs would not be able to ask for both a first round pick and a prospect that was drafted in the first round. It would be one or the other.

It was an excellent hit, and I’d recommend you listen to the whole thing here.

Johnson is not the only guy to offer a valuation for Chiarot. Darren Dreger, on The Morning Show on TSN690, suggested Chiarot is the David Savard of this year’s deadline. That deal is a little tougher to pin down because it involved a third team to facilitate the deal.

At the 2021 deadline, Tampa Bay gave up a 2021 first-round pick and a 2022 third rounder to Columbus for Savard. The Blue Jackets had retained half of Savard’s $4.25M salary cap hit. The Lightning also sent a 2021 fourth rounder to Detroit, the third team involved, since they picked up a quarter of the cap hit. The Lightning ended up with a cap hit of $1.06M for Savard, and paid a first, second and fourth to get it.

In my view, Chiarot is the better defenceman and he comes with a smaller cap hit. The Habs can retain 50% and absorb an expiring contract, if necessary, and avoid including a third team in the deal. That valuation sets the price for Chiarot at no less than a first rounder and another asset.

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period confirmed that asking price on the TSN Weekend Game Plan Show this past weekend.

For fantasy purposes, let’s assume two returning parts for Ben Chiarot – a first round pick, or a prospect that was selected in the first round, and another lesser pick or prospect.

The fantasy…

The list is long for playoff teams that would benefit from adding Ben Chiarot. I’m choosing the Edmonton Oilers.

I know fans hope Carey Price lands there, but I think that’s a reach. Carey’s contract will be tough to move in season. Beyond that, the Oilers need help now, and Carey has not yet resumed game play. A goalie is not the only need in Edmonton if they intend to make the playoffs and, frankly, I can’t imagine missing the playoffs is an option. The Oilers could use a big, mean, reliable defender.

Two options are proposed, and in both the Habs are targeting a centre. The Oilers are set down the middle and can afford to release one of their prospects for a beast defenceman who can help them right now.

The wake-up call…

Who says no?

I think it would be tough for the Habs to sell the first option, but with several teams competing for Chiarot, the second option might be more realistic. With Montreal in a position to retain salary and absorb a contract, the Oilers can effectively obtain Chiarot and not add to their cap.

Is there a better fantasy partner? Feel free to drop your ideas in the comments and we can chat!

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

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