Boston Bruins: Making the case to re-sign Zdeno Chara

Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara #33 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara #33 (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Boston Bruins should re-sign captain and defenseman Zdeno Chara.

There’s no question that Boston Bruins‘ defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara is not the same player he once was. However, with Torey Krug gone, the B’s left side looks awfully weak without the 43-year-old.

Although he isn’t the juggernaut that he once was, Chara is still a very serviceable defenseman. Chara missed just two games this season and averaged just over 21 minutes of ice-time playing alongside Charlie McAvoy.

Additionally, Chara was able to put up 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and a plus/minus (+/-) of +26. Chara’s 14 points were fifth on the team among defensemen, behind Krug, McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, and Brandon Carlo.

Possession metrics-wise, Chara wasn’t that great, but with Chara not being the fastest skater in the NHL and being a defenseman that relies on his size and strength, this isn’t a surprise.

Chara had a 46.5 Corsi-for percentage (CF%) — which was -6.5% under the team average — and his Fenwick-for percentage (FF%) was just 47.2 — which was -5.6% under the team average.

Defense-wise, Chara’s advanced numbers from this season also don’t look great. His expected goals against (xGA) was higher than his expected goals for (xGF) — 42.6 and 47.1 respectively.

But once again, I feel like this is because Chara is more focused on playing defense than jumping in on the play and trying to score. His offensive point shares (OPS) was just 0.1, while his defensive point shares (DPS) was quite good at 5.0.

However, even with Chara’s numbers being poor this season, he is arguably significantly better than most of the options the Bruins have now.

What the Boston Bruins have without Zdeno Chara.

Without Chara, the Bruins are left with six defensemen that have a left-handed shot. They are Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, John Moore, Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jack Ahcan.

Matt Grzelcyk

Grzelcyk is the only definite. After receiving a four-year extension with a $3,678,500 annual cap hit, there’s no doubt he’s solidified in the Bruins’ top-four defensemen.

John Moore

Moore may not even be with the organization when next season begins. The Bruins are trying to create cap space by unloading his contract that holds a $2.75 million cap hit.

Even if he is on the team next season, Moore will be scratched most games as an extra. Moore only played 24 games this season and has a terrible career expected plus/minus (E+/-) of -26.0.

Jeremy Lauzon

Lauzon is an inexperienced 23-year-old defenseman that will most likely be thrown into the Bruins top-four if Chara is not re-signed.

With just 35 career NHL games under his belt, Lauzon hasn’t done much to earn a spot in the B’s top-four. He played 19 games this season, recording two points (one goal and assist each).

Jakub Zboril

If you don’t think Lauzon is inexperienced, then you will think Zboril is. The 23-year-old didn’t play in the NHL this season and only has played in two NHL games during his career.

Without Chara, Zborial will most likely find his way into the Bruins’ lineup on the regular.

Urho Vaakanainen

Vaakanainen was chosen 18th-overall in 2017 by the Bruins. At just 21 years old and having played in just seven career NHL games (five this season), Vaakanainen will have to impress in camp to make the B’s roster next season.

Without Chara, this could be a lot easier to accomplish for Vaakanainen. With practically no NHL experience, besides Grzelcyk and Moore, the Bruins may elect to keep this young d-man with potential with the big club.

Jack Ahcan

Ahcan is an undrafted 23-year-old that has been playing with the St. Cloud State University for the last four seasons.

Like Vaakanainen, unless he really impresses he’ll most likely start the season in the AHL. Except there’s a couple of differences between the two, Ahcan is two years old and has no experience playing in either the NHL or AHL.

So, with the almost complete lack of NHL experience from this group of left-handed defensemen, the Bruins should definitely be trying to re-sign Chara.

It’s not like Chara is asking for a crazy contract. He has played the last two seasons on one-year deals — 2018-19 with a $5 million cap hit and this season with a $2 million cap hit.

If Chara really wants to remain a Bruin, he’ll probably take an even cheaper deal than the last one. We could possibly see Chara take a one-year deal worth just $1 million.

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However, if re-signed, Chara will most likely be given a different role, playing on either the second pairing or third pairing. But, no matter what his role, he’s a better option than anyone else the Bruins have for the left side — except Grzelyck, of course.