March was a good month for the Boston Bruins’ veteran captain, Zdeno Chara.
In addition to celebrating his 42nd birthday earlier this month, he later scored the 200th goal of his career on the same day that the Boston Bruins rewarded their captain with a contract extension, ensuring that Zdeno Chara will return to the team through the 2019-20 season.
Even at 42-years-old, Chara has proven that he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. The 6-foot-9 defenseman may have slowed down a touch over the last few seasons, but what he lacks in foot speed he makes up for with his reach. As a result, Zdeno Chara is still averaging over 21 minutes of ice time through 59 games for the Boston Bruins this season, with that number likely to increase once the playoffs begin.
While his offensive upside is not the same as it used to be and the days of Chara being a Norris Trophy candidate are in the past, the people who say that it is time for him to retire seem to be missing exactly what Chara brings to the team.
He has scored 5 goals and registered 9 assists through 59 games this season, but his defensive stats tell a better story of what Chara brings to the team. Chara has seen 52.7 percent of his zone starts coming from the defensive end, and his 54 percent Corsi rating is slightly higher than his career average. The Boston Bruins tend to control the puck more often than not with Chara on the ice, and his long reach is still a key factor in shutting down opponents defensively.
Like it or not, Chara is still the most reliable defenseman on the Boston Bruins blue-line. Charlie McAvoy will be the cornerstone of the Bruins defense core for years to come, but at the moment there is nobody else I would rather have on the ice in defensive situations. It’s pretty much guaranteed that the Bruins will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs this season, and Chara will likely be tasked with shutting down the Leafs’ best forwards once again.
When looking at how much money Chara will make next season, this contract actually works out well for the Boston Bruins. They were able to sign a top-pair defenseman for just $2 million, a pretty significant drop from the $5 million cap hit he has this season. That extra cap space for the Bruins will likely go towards signing Chara’s partner on the blue line, Charlie McAvoy, who is reportedly looking for a contract worth around $7.5 million per season.
At this point in his career, Zdeno Chara might not be as good as he used to be, but he is still a key player for the Boston Bruins. While he continues to shut down opponents, the leadership that Chara provides is another important element he brings to the Bruins.
A lot of people are waiting for Patrice Bergeron to be named the captain in Boston but Zdeno Chara has earned the right to go out on his own terms.