Boston Bruins bold prediction: Chara will be moved this year

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 11: Zdeno Chara
BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 11: Zdeno Chara /

The best thing about bold predictions is that half of the people will think you’re right, and half of the people will think you’re crazy.  There’s really no in between.  Well, here’s a doozy of a prediction for the Boston Bruins.

Let me put some prefatory remarks on the record before I write this prediction about the Boston Bruins.  I am one of the biggest Zdeno Chara fans you will meet.  I am not predicting this because I WANT it to happen, or because I have some sort of inside access to the organization.  This is pure speculation on my part.  Okay, with that said, let’s move on.

Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – NOVEMBER 11: Zdeno Chara /

Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Boston Bruins for 11 years, since the day he signed with the organization in 2006.  He has been the backbone of one of the best defense-first teams in all of hockey for the last decade.  He and other veteran guys brought the Bruins back into NHL relevance, including a Stanley Cup win in 2011.  Chara is absolutely going to be in the hockey Hall of Fame.

But here it is, 2017, and there’s way to sugar-coat this:  the Bruins are struggling and have for some time.  Yes, they currently sit at .500 (6-6-4, 16 points), and they have been decimated by injuries to key players at various times (David Backes, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Ryan Spooner, Adam McQuaid).  Would the Bruins be in a better position if those players had been on the ice all 16 games this season?  Possibly.

I had high hopes for the Bruins this season.  Perhaps too high.  Obviously, hind-sight is 20/20.  No one could have predicted the adversity the Bruins have faced this season.  However, even when those injured players come back, I anticipate that come trade deadline time, the Bruins will be on the outside looking in of the playoff race.

All of the talk has been that the Bruins intend to re-sign Chara after this season.  But there’s always trade chatter surrounding the Bruins defenseman during the season.  Is this finally the season it happens?

Why it makes sense

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Chara is in the final year of a 7 year, $45.5 million deal, where he’s making $4 million this season.  He is 40 years old, but is still extremely serviceable in both ends of the ice.  Obviously less so than 3 or 4 years ago, because no one ever beats Father Time.  However, the big man still has game.

He may no longer be a top-pairing, 23:00 – 24:00 guy in the league.  But due to the state of the Bruins roster, he is having to do just that.  This is obviously exposing him a bit defensively.  However, a team that is in contention from February and March looking for a top-4 defenseman to shore up the back-end would definitely be able to use him to make a run.

Rumors had the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs interested in Chara at various points in the last few seasons.  The same goes for some Western Conference teams like the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.  If the Bruins are out of the running for the playoffs or being an actual contender, could they decide to ask Chara to waive his no-movement clause for a trade?

The reason it could make sense for the Bruins is three-fold.  First, they could get back either some additional youth for the future, including draft picks, in a season where they aren’t going anywhere.  Second, they could finally promote Patrice Bergeron to be the captain of the team, a role he has earned, but Chara stood in the way all these years.  And third, nothing would stop the team from re-signing him next July when he became an unrestricted free agent, allowing him to come back and retire as a Bruin.  Obviously at a slightly reduced rate given his age, and willing to wear an ‘A’ on his sweater.

The downside

Obviously you run the risk of Chara deciding not to re-sign in Boston after the season is done, especially if he likes his new surroundings.  But I’m going to play devil’s advocate here:  is that really all that bad?  He is 40 and will be 41 next season.  The game is getting faster and Chara is not.  He’s always been a defender who relies on solid positioning and his freakishly long reach.  But the one thing that can beat that?  Speed.  And that is the current game in the NHL (i.e., Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Clayton Keller, et al).

Next: Bruins Week 6: Is it time to panic?

I am the first person to admit that seeing Chara wear another team’s jersey would be difficult.  Seeing him knocking bodies around in front of another goalie other than Tuukka Rask would make me a little ill.  But perhaps it’s time for us fans to leave sentiment and emotion at the door, and accept that the organization may have to make a tough decision come February.