When the Florida Panthers traded Frank Vatrano to the New York Rangers on Wednesday afternoon it was pretty clear they were doing so to create some salary cap space to make an addition before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
It did not take them long to make that move.
On Wednesday night the Panthers acquired defenseman Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for prospect Tyler Smilanic, a 2023 first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft. Montreal is also retaining half of Chiarot’s remaining contract in the trade. He has a salary cap hit of $3.5 million and is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Chiarot has been one of the most talked about defenders on the trade market ahead of the deadline (even though Montreal had some more impactful options for teams to try and acquire). He is not going to do much to provide any offensive punch from Florida’s blue line (they really do not need any offense) and will play a physical game around the net. It is a little surprising given that Chiarot really does not seem to fit Florida’s up-tempo style of play, but they obviously value what he can bring and were in the market for an up grade on defense. Say this much for them: Between Chiarot, Radko Gudas, and Patric Hornqvist the Panthers have a lot of players on this roster that can rattle their opponent’s cages.
They value Chariot so much so that they were willing to pay a pretty significant price in terms of draft picks to get him. Florida is already without first-and-second round picks in 2022 (Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett trades).
Trading the draft picks or prospects should not be much of a concern for Panthers fans. Odds are those are not going to result in impact players in the future, and if you have a chance to go for the Stanley Cup teams should absolutely do that. After all, banners hang forever. The question is whether or not that remaining salary cap space, Frank Vatrano (who had to be dealt to clear salary cap space), a prospect, and a first-round pick could have been used to acquire a more impactful player.
This is already Montreal’s second significant trade of the year, having previously sent Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames. They now have 13 picks in this year’s draft class (including nine in the first four rounds) and four first-round picks over the next two years.