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!

Habs to Make At Least One More Move

Lower salary cap and the league going with younger players are two of the reasons making this year’s last few days prior to hockey season more interesting than ever. Is it because teams are asking too much for their assets in trades? Or is it that they know that several teams are in a bit of a bind, being either over the cap or having too many players still at camp, having to place some on waivers? One thing is for sure: it’s neither the quantity nor the quality of players on waivers that’s lacking.

As for the Canadiens, there you have it folks! As predicted by many of us, and contrary to what some Habs’ fans believed, both Charles Hudon and Charlie Lindgren have cleared waivers and the team announced that they are sending them back to Laval. It’s a huge personal disappointment for Hudon I’m sure, while the Lindgren situation will be interesting to watch as he seems to be the odd-man out in Laval. That said, Marc Bergevin and his team still have some work to do, some difficult decisions to make. But before we get into that, let’s have a look at the Canadiens’ picture here.

According to Capfriendly.com, Montreal has around $4 million of cap space available, but that’s with a 25 men roster including Noah Juulsen who is injured. Juulsen is waiver exempt so he will likely be sent to Laval when healthy since he didn’t have a chance to earn a spot yet. This leaves the team with 24 players with someone in the neighbourhood of $5 million of cap space. As teams cannot carry more than 23 players, this means the Julien and Bergevin duo will have to cut one more player off the roster before the season starts on Thursday in Carolina.

Charles Hudon

Further, the Canadiens have a total of 48 players with professional contracts. The NHL limit is 50 so they have to tread carefully, particularly with players on waivers. There are a few ways to “unload” contracts, like trading contract for contract (let’s say two players for one) or players for draft picks or prospects yet under contract. So that’s not the end of the world.

When A.J. Greer was placed on waivers by Colorado yesterday, I was thinking that he would be a good pick up on waivers for Bergevin and his team. A former 2nd round pick (39th overall), the Joliette, Quebec native is only 22 years old and stands at 6’3″ and 210 lbs. Greer has great size and strength, and was projected to become a true power forward at the NHL level. He displays both a quality level of skating and a nasty disposition. Can rile up opponents, too, making him a focal point for teams that line up against him (which helps his own teammates). He is not a natural goal-scorer and the jury is still out on his long-range upside but he can and will drop the gloves if or when need be, something few Canadiens’ players can do. But he wasn’t claimed.

One of my Twitter followers, Daniel Labrecque, brings up a good point when it comes to the number of contracts so it remains possible that a Hudon or Lindgren trade for Greer could still be consumed by both teams. In a one for one trade, the Habs would remain at 48 contracts instead of 49 if they claimed him.

Another interesting player who was placed on waivers today by the Anaheim Ducks is Daniel Sprong, a 22 year old right-winger who had 14 goals in 47 games last year with the Ducks. The question is if other teams who finished lower than Montreal will put a claim in, which would kill the Canadiens’ chances of getting Sprong. But then again if he clears, the Ducks might be willing to trade contract for contract. That said, I have a feeling that they would like to keep him as a quality depth player so my gut tells me that if he clears, he will not be traded.

Who stays, who goes?

As it stands at the time of writing this, here’s how I personally see the team composition. Please note that the lines are for the sake of seeing how many players the Canadiens have and who has earned a spot. Claude Julien certainly can and will have different line combinations, and they are going to change from game to game.

Drouin – Domi – Suzuki

Tatar – Danault – Gallagher

Byron – Kotkaniemi – Weal

Lehkonen – Thompson/Poehling – Armia

Extra: Cousins and one of Thompson/Poehling

Mete – Weber

Chiarot – Petry

Kulak – Fleury

Extra: Folin

Price – Kinkaid

This lineup means that the odd-man out would be Mike Reilly… or if the Habs decided to go with eight defensemen and 13 forwards, it’s Cousins that I would remove as in my humble opinion, Nick Suzuki, Ryan Poehling and Cale Fleury all earned a spot with the big club. Note that it is possible that they send one or two of them down to Laval temporarily to give Bergevin time to make room for them at the NHL level. But all three have clearly showed that not only they are NHL ready, but they can have an impact. For those reasons, I think that Bergevin is not done and he will complete a trade in the next few hours or days.

As I’m heading out hunting with no internet connection and/or cell service, a lot can and will happen by the time I come back. And that’s exciting folks. Are you ready for Thursday? Go Habs Go!