The Washington Capitals are signing veteran defender Zdeno Chara to a one-year contract worth $795,000, the team announced Wednesday.
The news was originally broken by Ken Campbell with Ty Anderson confirming it shortly after. Chara himself would confirm his departure from Boston through his Instagram, thanking the city, the team and the fans in the process.
This is one of the biggest shocks of the offseason as Chara has been a member of the Bruins since signing with the team and being named captain in 2006. With the Bruins already losing Torey Krug this offseason, seeing their captain of 14 years and top left-shot defender leave for another team at this point in his career for just over the veteran’s minimum is as confusing as it gets.
Chara now joins a Capitals team that is set to play the Bruins more times than they usually would have given the temporary realignment for the 2020-21 season that has the two teams in the same division.
In his career, Chara has played 1,553 games and scored 205 goals and 656 points while averaging 24:10 of ice time. With the Bruins, Chara played in 1,023 games and was the most important piece on their team defensively for just about every single one of those games.
It’s rare to see players remain effective after the age of 30, but Chara has proven to still be effective a few years into his 40’s.
Though he may not be the same player he once was, Chara’s ability to impact the opposition and play legitimate shutdown minutes cannot be understated. He averaged just over 21 minutes in each of the last two seasons and can still be a regular contributor on a competitive team as he’s proven over the last few seasons.
“We are extremely pleased to have Zdeno join the Capitals organization,” said Capitals’ general manager Brian MacLellan. “We feel his experience and leadership will strengthen our blueline and our team.”
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Chara immediately step into a significant role on the Capitals defense. As it stands, John Carlson, Dmitri Orlov and Justin Schultz should be locked into top-four slots on the team. That leaves Chara, Brenden Dillon, Jonas Siegenthaler, Nick Jensen and Trever van Riemsdyk to compete for the final top-four spot and the subsequent two spots on the third-pairing.
Chara’s Departure is a Major Loss for the Bruins
For the Bruins, replacing Chara will be no easy-feat. He was the longest-tenured captain in the NHL, a crucial part of the team’s Championship window and played a crucial role both five-on-five and on special teams.
As mentioned, Krug also departed Boston this offseason, leaving the team with some major holes and uncertainty on their left-side. Though the team still has Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon and John Moore, they are likely to give players like Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen an opportunity to step into regular NHL roles this coming season.
The Bruins were able to win the President’s Trophy last season but with such significant change on their back-end coming, it’s anybody’s guess as to what kind of success they’ll have in what already promised to be a difficult season to predict.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.