With the Boston Bruins sporting a 29-17-4 record, it’s clear that they will be buyers at the trade deadline. Although it’s been a strong campaign for them thus far, it’s clear that they would benefit from adding to their current roster. One potential rental candidate who they should consider targeting is former captain and current New York Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara.
Although the Bruins have other needs to address, there are multiple reasons why Chara could end up being a solid addition to the team. For the record, I’m not arguing that he should be their biggest or lone acquisition before the trade deadline passes. However, now still feels like the perfect time for a reunion to occur between both parties. Let’s dive into why.
Chara Would Help Improve Bruins’ Defensive Depth
At this juncture of his career, Chara is probably best described as being a bottom-pair defenseman. When looking at the Bruins’ current left side, it’s fair to argue that he could compete for a spot with Derek Forbort. They could also move one of their lefties to the right side and take Connor Clifton out of the top six. However, even if he were only an extra defenseman for them, it still has the potential to be quite beneficial. This is especially when noting how frequently injuries occur as the season continues.
Now, I am not saying that Chara should reclaim his spot on the Bruins’ top pair with Charlie McAvoy. As his time with the team came to a close, it became clear that this role was too large for the veteran. Yet, he has proven with both the Washington Capitals and Islanders that he still works very well in limited minutes. Although his offensive numbers have dropped off since his prime years, he is still a solid defensive defenseman. Thus, there are not too many risks with bringing him in for added depth.
Chara Would Provide Much-Needed Toughness
The Bruins have been receiving a lot of criticism for not being tough enough to play against. Honestly, when looking at their lack of responses to multiple dirty plays against them this season, it’s a fair argument to make. Even at 44 years old, Chara is still an extremely imposing figure who never shies away from the physical side of the game. He has won several fights in a memorable fashion this campaign, too. This element of his game would naturally be welcomed.
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Although many players become less aggressive as their careers progress, that has not been the case with Chara. In his 42 games played this season, he has an impressive 84 hits. With this, he only needs four more to equal the amount he had last season with the Capitals. Although this may seem like a minor statistic, it is noteworthy when remembering that the Bruins currently lack grit. Furthermore, how could we ignore the fact that he is also 6-foot-9 when talking about this?
Chara’s Vast Experience Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Chara is currently in his 24th NHL season has played over 1,600 career games because of it. He is on the verge of passing Chris Chelios for the most games ever played by an NHL defenseman. That’s a major accomplishment that deserves a lot of praise. With that, he of course was captain of the Bruins for 14 seasons and helped lead them to their 2011 Stanley Cup championship. He also has a Norris Trophy, Mark Messier Leadership Award, and five All-Star Game appearances on his resume, too. Needless to say, he has an immense amount of overall experience. That’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Although the Bruins have veterans like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Nick Foligno on their roster, it wouldn’t hurt to add another one like Chara. With him being on the team just two seasons ago, he knows a good chunk of the roster already. Furthermore, when the playoffs come around, it would be fantastic to have another leader who is a proven winner. Even if his playing time was very limited, he would be a great voice to have in the locker room.
Chara is Easily Affordable
Even if Chara was brought in to be an extra defenseman, it would be completely worth it. He only carries a $750,000 cap hit but also an average annual value (AAV) of $1.5 million due to its bonuses. The Bruins always seem to add to their depth at the deadline, and he should be a player who intrigues them if they wish to follow that trend this year.
The Bruins have multiple other needs that they need to address at the deadline. For example, adding a second-line center or top-six right winger would be ideal. Yet, acquiring a player who is making league-minimum salary like Chara would not hurt their chances of getting talent elsewhere. We saw this occur just last season. As a part of the Taylor Hall deal, the Bruins also added Curtiz Lazar and his affordable $800,000 cap hit. Since then, he has become an important part of their fourth line. It wouldn’t be out of the question to see them do something similar to this again.
Although Chara wouldn’t be a long-term solution, he is a nice bargain at his current price. At the end of the day, it would be nice to see him finish his career as a member of the Bruins. He would provide them with a lot more toughness and leadership, which is something they undoubtedly would benefit from. Yet, even if a reunion does not come to fruition, the organization should at least sign him to a one-day contract before he officially retires. With everything he did for the Bruins, he needs to retire as a member of the franchise.