The Montreal Canadiens made the first major deal before the March 21 trade deadline, shipping winger Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames on Monday. This move will only stoke conjecture in the coming weeks over the futures of defensemen Jeff Petry and Ben Chiarot.
Petry became the subject of increasing media trade chatter over the past two weeks after Canadiens GM Kent Hughes indicated his willingness to move the unhappy 34-year-old defenseman if a deal could be found to benefit both sides. Chiarot, meanwhile, has been a fixture in the rumor mill due to the 30-year-old's unrestricted free agent eligibility in July.
Sportsnet's Eric Engels suggested the Dallas Stars or Detroit Red Wings as possible destinations for Petry. Meanwhile, the Montreal Gazette's Pat Hickey believes the Canadiens aren't dealing from a position of strength with Petry and clearing his $6.25-million cap hit from their books could be more important than any return.
That's easier said than done, however, considering Cap Friendly indicates Petry's contract runs through 2024-25 with a 15-team no-trade clause.
It's hard to see the Stars taking on an older blueline asset like Petry when they're reportedly reluctant to invest over $7-million annually on a long-term deal for pending UFA John Klingberg. While the Habs blueliner is a Michigan native, Wings GM Steve Yzerman could have younger, cheaper options in mind for his defense corps.
Chiarot's $3.5-million cap hit and UFA status this summer make him easier to move as a rental player. The ongoing belief among NHL insiders suggests he'll fetch a first-round pick for the rebuilding Canadiens. He's been linked to the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.