Panthers Trade Vatrano, Add Chiarot as Deadline Looms

Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Ben Chiarot, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Florida Panthers have their sights set on the Stanley Cup.

Florida figures to be in contention for the Eastern Conference crown this postseason, and on Wednesday, the Cats embraced that idea by making two key trades.

The first deal of the day for the Panthers was with the New York Rangers. Florida acquired a 2022 fourth-round pick from New York in exchange for forward Frank Vatrano.

Vatrano, whose contract will expire at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 season, has recorded 19 points (10 goals and nine assists) in 49 games this year with the Panthers. The 28-year-old played for the Boston Bruins prior to joining the Panthers in 2017.

He set a career-high in points during his first campaign with Florida, scoring 24 goals and 39 points in 81 games. The Rangers needed a scoring option behind its stars, and Vatrano has the ability to be useful in a secondary scoring role and possibly on the power play. Vatrano has 11 power play goals in his career.

Overall, it seems like a victory for the Rangers, especially considering the price they had to pay to get Vatrano. For the Panthers, this deal was more of a sign of things to come than it was anything else.

The Florida Panthers are gearing up for the postseason.

After moving Vatrano to the Rangers, the Panthers made a deal with the Montreal Canadiens to acquire defenseman Ben Chiarot.

In return, the Habs received a 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick, and a forward prospect (who is unsigned) from the Cats. Montreal will retain half of Chiarot’s salary this season, the final season on his current contract.

The move serves a clear purpose for both teams, as the Panthers add a highly-sought commodity on the back end that can help them in their championship pursuit, and the Canadiens can use the picks to begin its rebuild.

Chiarot has posted 18 points (seven goals and 11 assists) in 54 games this year for the last-place Canadiens. His contributions to a lineup can be diverse, and they include significant postseason experience, as he went to the Stanley Cup Final with Montreal less than one year ago.

The 30-year-old defenseman will make an impact for the Panthers for sure, but he has also now made an impact on the remainder of the trade deadline. As one of the first big names to be moved this week, his value will set the bar for deals that are still to come.

Defenseman Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes, for example, will most likely not be available for a team that does not offer a first-round pick now that we have seen Chiarot go for a first plus more. This will especially be the case since Chychrun’s deal runs through the 2024-2025 season.

Whether it’s free agency or the trade deadline, there is a domino effect, and Chiarot is the first major domino to fall.

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It’s obvious that the Panthers are capable of winning the Stanley Cup in 2022. With these two trades in the books, and potentially more still to come, you’d better believe that Florida is here to make a deep run.