Canadiens trade Ben Chiarot to Panthers for prospect, first-round pick

Elliotte Friedman and Caroline Cameron break down Florida and Calgary's trades that netted them Ben Chiarot and Calle Jarnkrok respectively, as well as discuss the next names that could be on the move.

MONTREAL -- The struggling Montreal Canadians traded defenceman Ben Chiarot, one of the most coveted players on the trade market, to the Florida Panthers on Wednesday for forward Tyler Smilanic and two draft picks.

The Canadiens get a first-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in '22, previously acquired from the New York Rangers.

Chiarot led Montreal in ice time with nearly 26 minutes a night during the Canadiens' post-season run to the Stanley Cup final last year.

The Canadiens retain 50 per cent of Chiarot's salary for the remainder of this season.

Smilanic, a left-handed forward, recorded 22 points (13 goals, 9 assists) in 38 games in his second season with Quinnipiac University in the NCAA. The six-foot-one, 177-pound centre ranked second on the team in goals. The Denver native was selected in the third round, 74th overall, by Florida in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Chiarot joined the Canadiens as a free agent, signing a three-year contract on July 4, 2019. The defenceman recorded 46 points in 164 games with Montreal.

The deal was the second of the day for the Panthers, who cleared out about US$2.5 million in cap room earlier Wednesday when they shipped forward Frank Vartrano to the New York Rangers for a fourth-round pick.

The Panthers were clearly looking to do more, and hours later, the deal for Chiarot was done.

"Ben is a solid veteran defenceman that will bring both experience and size to our blue line,'' Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. "Having reached the Stanley Cup final with Montreal last season, he is a player that knows what it takes to make a deep playoff run, which is what our organization is striving for in these next few months.''

That pick acquired from the Rangers ended up becoming part of the deal to get Chiarot.

The Panthers entered Wednesday with the second-most points in the NHL this season, behind only Colorado.

Florida also leads the NHL in goals scored, averaging 4.10 per game _ on pace to shatter the previous club record. The Panthers have given up 2.92 goals per game, which was good for basically the middle of the NHL pack entering Wednesday, 13th-best in the league.

-- With files from The Associated Press.

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