In a sports world with very little good news, the Boston Bruins fans did receive some good news this past week. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has announced that he intends on playing after the 2019-2020 season is officially over. The 43-year-old defenseman will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but chances are he won’t be playing anywhere else but Boston for the remainder of his career.
For the Bruins, they have to be ecstatic for several reasons. They are getting their longtime captain and leader back for at least another year. Also they’re getting arguably their best defenseman back for another year.
Say what you want about how Chara has lost a step and is probably the slowest player in the NHL. He has also been one of the most durable defensemen on the Bruins roster and he has a plus-minus rating of plus 26 while averaging over 20 minutes of ice time on the best team in the league. Hard to argue with those stats.
Yes, Chara may be 43 years old and will be 44 before next season ends, but even if Chara’s play falls off just a little bit, he would still be an excellent second or third defensive pairing for the Bruins any day of the week. Chara has been in the Bruins top defensive pair for over a decade now and the only thing that seems to have really slowed him down have been injuries.
Currently Chara is on a one-year deal making just $2 million. It seems like Chara will be playing on a year to year basis so he isn’t likely to receive more than a one-year contract. Also with the whole pandemic that has been going on it is unknown how next year’s salary cap will pan out. Therefore, it is very likely that Chara will take a very team friendly contract to remain with the Bruins while also allowing the Bruins to sign other players to compete for a championship.
My guess is that Chara’s contract will be a one-year deal for somewhere in between $1-$2 million. With the Bruins needing to re-sign players like Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk this offseason, it would make sense that Chara would take less to allow the Bruins to re-sign his teammates.
For the most part it looks like the Bruins will be able to return next season with pretty much the same roster that brought them all the way to first place this season. It is no secret that the core of this Bruins team is getting a bit older so the Bruins front office should be doing whatever they can to ensure that the likes of Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci can compete for another championship.
Hopefully Chara taking less this season to allow the team to be successful can transition to veterans like Krejci and Bergeron whose contracts will be up within the next few years as well. Chara has been the leader of the Bruins for over a decade now and if players like Bergeron and Krejci see him take less to benefit the team, I’d be willing to bet that they would take a lesser cap hit to allow the team to build more of a championship contender than they already are.