Montreal Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot has been the subject of frequent media trade speculation since November. According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, the Florida Panthers are among several clubs that could make a pitch for the 30-year-old blueliner.
During a Jan. 1 appearance on RDS's Hockey 360, LeBrun said the Panthers have had internal discussions over whether they'll make an offer to the Canadiens for Chiarot. He believes they'll attempt to acquire him before the March 21 trade deadline
Mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens are expected to be among this season's sellers. They could wait until executive VP of hockey operations Jeff Gorton hires a new general manager before fielding trade offers.
Slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July, the 6-foot-3, 234-pound Chiarot is a physical shutdown defenseman who played a key role in the Canadiens' unexpected march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final. His experience and style of play would make him a valuable addition to any contender's defense corps, which explains why he sat atop TSN's December trade-bait board.
Last month, LeBrun suggested Chiarot could fetch the Canadiens a first-round pick. While that seems expensive, the Tampa Bay Lightning gave up a first-round pick at last year's trade deadline for a comparable rental rearguard in David Savard, who's now Chiarot's teammate in Montreal.
Panthers GM Bill Zito could be all-in this season to pursue the Stanley Cup. However, he traded his club's 2022 first-round pick last summer to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the return for Sam Reinhart. He'll have to come up with a suitable offer to outbid other clubs interested in Chiarot. Perhaps he'll part with his 2023 first-rounder or offer up a top prospect and a lower-round pick.