Ben Chiarot may be good. He had a good enough season that I stopped calling him Ben Chairot and started calling him Ben Chia-pet. In reality, Chiarot has shown that he can be a NHL level defender when playing alongside a defender playing at elite levels. Chiarot and Dustin Byfuglien formed a really strong pairing for the Winnipeg Jets this season, but with only 600 minutes played, it is hard to draw a firm conclusion on Chiarot as a player.
Together, Chiarot and Byfuglien were fantastic together and only Byfuglien was strong when they were a part. The issue is that with only 600 minutes played, it is hard to draw a firm conclusion about what type of NHL player Chiarot is. Context is key as well. When Chiarot and Byfuglien played together, they started 46.3% of their shifts in the offensive zone. When Chiarot was without Byfuglien, he started 56.6% of his shifts in the offensive zone and Byfuglien was at 54.4% of his shifts starting there when he was without Chiarot. Together the two players are given tougher zone starts and are better for it.
Let's circle back to the reason why Chiarot is so hard to evaluate: 600 minutes. That is all that there is to judge him off of. There is no real way to form an informed opinion when there is not much data to look at and not much time away from his most common partner. Chiarot looked surprisingly competent this season. Who knows if that continues next season or if this past season was an aberration. If it was, the Jets have enough depth defencemen that they can compensate for it, but they need someone who can play permanently with Byfuglien or someone else, Chiarot has shown potential, the question is, how much potential is there as Chiarot is now 24*.
Much like with Paul Postma, Chiarot is a restricted free-agent this summer and needs to be signed by the Jets. He is more of an unknown than Postma, but the same scenarios exist with him. They can simply hope he signs his tender or they can negotiate a contract with him. If they intend to use him as a top-four defender or alongside Byfuglien, it may be financially prudent to negotiate a contract with him and sign him for two years at a lower rate. Either way, Chiarot needs a new deal this summer.
If he does struggle next year, the Jets can waive him and send him to the AHL. Hopefully he does not though and the 600 minutes he played this year are indicative of the player he will be. The Jets need him to be that player.
*He turned 24 on May 9.
All WOWY numbers from Puckalytics.