“Recently, The Boston Bruins have informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision. Unfortunately, my time as the proud captain of the Boston Bruins has come to an end.”
With his announcement on Instagram, Zdeno Chara closed the door on a magnificent 14-year run in Boston.
His playing days, however, aren’t over. The 6-foot-9 defensemen inked a one-year deal worth $795,000 with the Washington Capitals. Chara will make $205,000 less than Kevan Miller, who hasn’t suited up for a game since April 4, 2019.
Chara may not be a top-pairing defenseman anymore, but the Bruins will miss his giant presence both on and off the ice. The back end has significant question marks with Chara’s departure to Washington and Torey Krug signing with the St. Louis Blues.
Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will anchor the right side of the Bruins’ blue line. Matt Grzelcyk slides in as the top left-shot defenseman with Chara and Krug out of the lineup.
Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton both gained significant playing time over the last year and a half. Both will likely stay in their roles as third pairing blue-liners. The rest of the projected defensive corps includes a pair of first round picks, Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakaninen, who have a mere seven combined NHL games under their belt, and two oft-injured veterans in Miller and John Moore.
The Bruins reportedly expressed interest in signing Ben Hutton, one of the few remaining names on the open market. His career stats aren’t anything to write home about — 86 points in 341 career games — but Hutton provided a rare sense of stability in a bottom-four role for the rebuilding Los Angeles Kings last season, averaging over 18 minutes per night. He’d fill a need on the left side on the second or third pairing.
This won’t be the last time the Bruins see Chara. They’ll face his new squad a whopping eight times in the re-aligned East Division for the 2021 season.
The only other near certainty following Chara’s departure regards his captaincy. Patrice Bergeron will likely ascend to the ‘C’ barring any unusual developments.
As if things aren’t strange enough in this post-pandemic world, Chara becomes the latest marquee name to depart Boston in 2020. And the Bruins don’t have much time left to win another Cup with the remaining four members — Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask — from their 2011 Cup-winning squad.