When the deal to trade Kessel blew up very publicly at the NHL draft, I was left scratching my head. With everyone talking about how Kessel might want $4 million or more, the word on the street was that Chiarelli needed to unload Kessel's salary primarily because he couldn't afford him. Yet Chiarelli attempted to trade Kessel for a defenseman who was under contract for about the same amount of money. That in itself left me scratching my head, let alone why the pundits didn't make much of it. But now that Ward has been traded we know what Chiarelli was thinking, and that means we know what he has been thinking all along.
It seems clear now that Chiarelli's plan has been to trade Kessel for an impact defenseman, dumping Ward's salary to cover the added cost. Now it's just a matter of the right deal for a defenseman coming along, whether it be next week or sometime during the season.