Ben Chiarot Comparables

Ah the monetary and overall value of a player to a team. What a topic of discussion, isn’t it? You see, it’s a extremely subjective topic. We’ve all been in discussions with other people about a specific player and we’ve all disagreed with some of them about their take on a players’ worth. You see, while one may feel strongly about their opinion about a certain player, it doesn’t necessarily make them true. Oh it’s certainly true in their own mind and they’ll make sure to tell you so. But like any subjective topic, there’s more grey than there is black or white.

While it’s the same phenomenon across the NHL, we don’t have to look far in Montreal to find examples. People are still talking about a three year old trade of a defenseman who shall remain nameless for the purpose of this topic, but we know who we’re talking about, right? But we can’t blame fans for having a strong opinion about some players’ worth. Think about it… NHL General Managers disagree amongst each other about the value of certain players, killing more trade talks than we can begin to imagine. Further, those GMs are often in disagreement with players’ agents when it comes to contract talks. Here’s the only fact: everyone has a subjective opinion and the worth of a player to one team is, more often than not, not the same for the team next door.

One recent topic of discussion amongst Habs’ fans has been about the value of the team’s most recent Unrestricted Free Agent’s signing: Ben Chiarot. But before we get into this, here are some facts about the rugged Hamilton native:

Back on July 4th, Chiarot signed a 3-year, $10.5 million dollar deal with Montreal as a UFA. So far this season, he has played 14 games at the time of writing this. In those 14 games, he is averaging 20:43 minutes of ice time per game, third on the team behind only Jeff Petry and Shea Weber, who both play on the right side while Chiarot plays left. He has one goal, one assist and has a differential of plus -3. He’s second on the Habs in hits (34), 3rd in blocked shots (18) and he has 27 shots on goal, good for 8th on his team. He’s done all of that while getting accustomed to a new City, a new team, learning a new system and slowly developing chemistry with his defense partner(s) and teammates, getting to know their habits. Those are undeniable facts.

Contract comparables

You have people saying that Chiarot is overpaid, that he doesn’t always make the right decision with the puck, overcommits at times, gets caught out of position other times. While you certainly won’t find a topic of debate with yours truly when it comes to those assessments, I will certainly argue about his salary and his worth. You see, after some good discussions with other Habs’ fans on Twitter during the game in Dallas, I decided to do some research… because that’s what I do. I typically don’t just argue for the sake of arguing. I like to, as much as possible, back up my statements, my beliefs and my opinions. If I’m wrong after doing my research, I will certainly admit it too.

Let’s take a look at similar contracts around the NHL, contracts that Chiarot’s agent likely used to compare his client to, if he was doing his job (which I’m sure he was). I have added a couple of notes below the table to help you put some of those numbers into context.

NAMEAGESIGNED ASCAP HITLENGHTCAP HIT %YEAR SIGNED2018-19 GP2018-19 PTS
Marc Staal28UFA5.768.2620157913
Niklas Hjalmarsson27UFA4.156.3820138210
Karl Alzner28UFA4.6356.17201791
Calvin De Haan27UFA4.5545.7220187414
Brendan Smith28UFA4.3545.820176313
Dmitry Kulikov26UFA4.3335.782017576
Ian Cole29UFA4.2535.3520187115
Kris Russell30UFA445.3320177216
Erik Gudbranson 26UFA435.3320187610
Jason Demers28UFA4.556.162016358
Justin Braun27UFA3.855.5120147816
Michael Stone27UFA3.534.672017145
Ben Chiarot28UFA3.534.2920197820
Patrik Nemeth27UFA3.023.6820197410
Carl Gunnarsson29UFA2.933.972016257
John Moore27UFA2.7553.4620186113
Thomas Hickey29UFA2.543.142018404
Jordie Benn31UFA2.022.4520198122

* Stats from CapFriendly.com

NOTES:

  1. Whether we agree with it or not, UFA’s players’ agents definitely use comparables when negotiating a client’s contract, which is why I’ve included last year’s stats and contract info.
  2. There is a premium to pay to get most UFA’s to sign in Canada, Montreal included. Keep that in mind as well, again whether we agree with it or not.

Some will argue that the team would have been better off re-signing 31 year old Jordie Benn. That’s a very defendable point but the team decided to go with a younger, more physical Chiarot who is at the very least, a slight improvement over Benn. Three years is a very good term as well, all things considered.

Ben Chiarot

So what’s the issue here? The most logical answer is that some people’s expectations are unrealistic. You pay a player $3.5M and they’re expecting near perfection. You know what? He is what he is: a fairly solid veteran who will play physical, be okay (no more) at moving the puck, will block shots and will, more often than not, be reliable in his own zone. But he will make mistakes, more so than a defenseman who’s amongst the tops in the league.

While he’s a very good player, Petry is known across the NHL for his brain cramps. He reminds me a lot of Alex Edler in Vancouver. Those players will be playing a great game but will make a couple of very bad decisions which ultimately, will result in a scoring chance or a goal. But Chiarot is making $2 million less than Petry, and that gap will be much bigger when he signs his new contract this upcoming summer, and we all know that.

All in all, the issue is not so much with Chiarot and his play, but rather with the somewhat unrealistic expectations some people have on him… at least in my opinion. The opinions will also vary depending on when the comments are made. This discussion took place during a game where the Canadiens were getting outplayed and outscored, bringing a ton of negativity in the fan base. Regardless, Chiarot is a $3.5M player and he’s worth every penny when comparing league-wide. Now let’s go back at enjoying the games and cheer on our favourite team, shall we? Go Habs Go!

Meet The New Habs

There you have it folks, the Montreal Canadiens have solidified their 23-men roster and they’re getting even younger. Many, myself included, are disappointed that Ryan Poehling was sent down to the AHL’s Laval Rockets but thrilled that the Canadiens decided to keep training camp standouts Nick Suzuki and Cale Fleury. According to Capfriendly.com, Montreal has $5,571,192 available in cap space and only six teams spend less than the Habs… a position rather surprising considering the market they are in. Without further ado, let’s have a closer look at the new faces sporting the Habs’ uniform, and let’s start getting to know them.

#37 – Keith Kinkaid

Keith Kinkaid

Date of Birth: July 4, 1989 (30)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 195 lbs

Position: Goaltender

Catches: Left

Scouting Report: Very quick laterally, he mirrors shooters well. Uses his big frame well to wall off the bottom of the net. Shows good reflexes and will make sprawling saves when out of position. Goes into his butterfly too quickly at times and can get hung out to dry by patient shooters. Too often gets caught out of position. Needs a little more work on his blocker side.

Little known fact: On Dec. 19, 2014, Kinkaid became the first goalie in NHL history to have each of his first three starts decided in a shootout. 

#8 – Ben Chiarot 

Ben Chiarot

Date of Birth: May 9, 1991 (28)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 219 lbs

Position: Defenseman

Shoots: Left

Scouting Report: Has the requisite size all National Hockey League teams need along the blueline, and he displays the ability to use it as well. Was a good point producer in the junior ranks. Still a little raw in the defensive zone, he needs to tighten up and limit his mistakes with the puck in order to maximize his big-league potential as a defensive type.

#21 – Nick Cousins 

Nick Cousins

Date of Birth: July 20, 1993 (26)

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 185 lbs

Position: Centre

Shoots: Left

Scouting Report: Has plenty of abrasiveness in his game, and is always willing to stir the pot. Can also play a sound two-way game. Adds plenty of versatility to a roster. Must prove he can continue to play his rambunctious style as he climbs the ladder. Also, the jury is out on his point-producing ability at the NHL level.

#14 – Nick Suzuki

Nick Suzuki

Date of Birth: August 10, 1999 (20)

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 201 lbs

Position: Centre/Right Winger

Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: Plays a very heady, mature two-way game. Is a talented playmaker who is also adept at finishing off plays himself. Due to his hockey smarts, he can be used with the game on the line and in defensive situations. He is still a bit raw as an all-round talent and needs more consistency.

Notes: Suzuki was named the OHL playoffs MVP last season.

#20 – Cale Fleury 

Cale Fleury

Date of Birth: November 19, 1998 (20)

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 205 lbs

Position: Defenseman

Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: A solid puck carrier with smooth skating abilities. Highly offensive-minded. Possesses the size to be in the NHL one day and plays with both his brain and muscles in the defensive zone. Has the potential to hope for a top-four career on a NHL’s defensive unit.

Notes: Soon after being announced as part of the team, Fleury changed his number from 83 to 20.

So ladies and gentlemen, here is your opening night line-up, based on practice:

Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Domi – Suzuki
Drouin – Kotkaniemi – Armia
Byron/Cousins – Thompson – Weal

Mete – Weber
Chiarot – Petry
Kulak – Fleury
Reilly – Folin

Price
Kinkaid

Here’s for a successful season! Go Habs Go!

* Scouting Reports from The Sports Forecaster.