Defying The Odds: The Chiarot Chronicles

If you’re drafted in the first round, it’s likely that you’ll see some NHL ice. If you’re drafted in the second round, then you’ll have to show a little something, but it’s still likely that you’ll get a chance or two to get that call-up. If you’re drafted in the third round, you have keep improving. Beyond that, it’s unlikely that you’ll become an NHL player.

In the case of Ben Chiarot, he’s one of those players that has defied the odds of making it to the NHL as a late round pick.

Chiarot has not looked out of place in his first (extended) cup of coffee in the NHL, filling in for the injured blueline that has become the reality of the Winnipeg Jets. Chiarot has played six NHL games, producing two assists while averaging an astounding 20:04 minutes per game.

Chiarot obviously has the trust of head coach Paul Maurice and he continues to shine. Could this be a high he’s riding or is Chiarot for real??

THE LONG HARD RIDE

Ben Chiarot was drafted 120th overall in the fourth round by the Atlanta Thrashers. Basically, you can say he was a 5th round draft choice. The only players that have been of any significance drafted after Chiarot include Gabriel Bourque (5/132), Marcus Kruger (5/149), Darcy Kuemper (6/161), and Jordan Nolan (7/186).

Do you notice anything that those players have in common??? None of them are defencemen.

Ben Chiarot spent his junior career with the Guelph Storm, Sudbury Wolves and Saginaw Spirit. With Guelph, he was beginning his career during the last one spent in the OHL by Drew Doughty. After Doughty’s departure, Chiarot wasn’t the ticket seller. He wasn’t even the most notable d-man on the team. He lived in the shadows of players like Tim Praimo and Nathan Martime.

Chiarot was traded to the Sudbury Wolves before the playoff season. Once again, Chiarot wasn’t a premier junior player on this team, falling behind names like Daniel Maggio and Josh McFadden.

In his final season as a junior player, Chiarot was moved to the Saginaw Spirit where finally Chiarot was one of the big names on the blueline with Ryan O’Connor and Dalton Prout. Chiarot would then turn pro but found himself behind on the depth charts.

It was the first season that the Jets became the Jets again, and everybody had a clean slate with the organization due to the management turnover. The Jets were focused on developing the likes of Zach Redmond, Paul Postma, Brett Festerling and Arturs Kulda ahead of Chiarot. AHL veterans Jason DeSantis and Travis Ramsey contributed to seeing Chiarot spend more of the season playing in the AHL for the Colorado Eagles.

The following season, Chiarot’s path looked slightly bleak. While Zach Redmond and Paul Postma saw NHL promotions, the IceCaps had AHL veterans Derek Meech, Dean Arsene, Travis Ramsey and Richard Petiot at their disposal. Still, Chiarot played a regular shift with the club, playing 61 games and scoring 12 points.

With two full seasons as a pro hockey player, Chiarot was ready to prove he had an NHL future by playing out of his mind with the IceCaps in the 13-14 season. Chiarot became the go-to shutdown guy over 65 games and an incredible +29 rating.

Chiarot used that momentum to earn his first call-up and taste of the NHL. He carried that over to the current season, and once injuries hit Chiarot found himself in the NHL once again. He has looked good so far, and might have the likes of Paul Postma and Adam Pardy nervous they could lose their jobs permanently.

IS THIS ANOTHER REDMOND?

The Jets have seen this story before however. Zach Redmond looked like a surefire NHLer after earning some time on the big ice, and injuries effectively halted his progression. 

Today Zach Redmond is now playing decently well for the Colorado Avalanche, but he won’t be returning to the Winnipeg Jets lineup anytime soon, so it’s not out of the question for fans to be weary. 

For the time being, Ben Chiarot looks like the real deal.

SCOUTING REPORT

Chiarot was never a flashy player, and he may be ready to take over for Mark Stuart when he decides to hang up his skates. Chiarot has NHL size and he knows how to use it to his advantage, something that’s a real big plus to be a successful NHL player. He’s your typical shutdown defender and while he is on pace to score 19 assists, his expected NHL output should be limited to his defensive abilities and any offense is considered a bonus.

Think of Ladislav Smid without the odd defensive lapse. He’s a tough kid with a real opportunity at sticking with the Jets for the remainder of the season.

The 23-year-old Hamilton boy has been a gift for Paul Maurice and he’ll be a guy to keep an eye on for sometime.