In the off-season, the Boston Bruins will have a tough decision to make as they’ll have to decide whether or not to offer their captain, Zdeno Chara a new contract.
Last off-season, Chara had signed a one year deal with the Boston Bruins. The deal carries a 5 million USD cap hit and will expire on July 1st. In addition, the Bruins provided Chara with a No Movement Clause (NMC).
For someone who is 41 years of age, a 5 million USD cap hit with a NMC is pretty sweet deal. In fact, it’s the highest cap hit for a defenseman over the age of 35 in the NHL. After Chara, Ron Hainsey of the Toronto Maple Leafs has the highest cap hit with 3 million USD.
While I understand that the Boston Bruins are loyal to Chara and vice-versa, 5 million USD and a NMC for a 41 year old is a bad contract for the team. Yes, it’s a one year deal, but the Bruins are now left with 3.9 million USD in cap space. As a team that is more than likely to be in the playoffs, you’d hope that the team had a bit more cap space to allow for some big trades at the trade deadline.
Unfortunately, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs doesn’t have a time-machine, so there is no way of going back to July and re-negotiating Chara’s contract.
But, hopefully, the Bruins will be able to negotiate a better deal with Chara in July. Otherwise, it could be his last season in Boston. The Bruins simply can’t afford to give Chara a similar contract in July. They need the cap space to improve their team. With the cap space, they can go bring some extra fire power via free agency or trade. Plus, with many excellent UFAs hitting the market on July 1 including Mark Stone, Erik Karlsson, Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, Joe Pavelski, Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner, Jake Gardiner and Tyler Myers, the Bruins need to be aggressive in landing one or two of these UFAs.
What Is Chara Worth?
After 22 games played this season, Chara has registered 3 goals, 1 assist, 1 power-play goal, 33 shots, 9.1 shooting percentage (S%), 21:07 average time on ice (ATOI), 31 blocks, 24 hits, 11 take-aways and a 51.7 corsi-for percentage (CF%).
Unfortunately, his stats aren’t great. Over the course of the last few years, Chara has lost his offensive magic. Chara hasn’t managed to total at least 30 points since his 2015-2016 campaign.
In addition, his average shots per game are down too. Last season, he averaged 1.97 shots per game and had a S% of 4.9. But, this season, he’s averaging 1.5 shots per game with a 9.1 S%. Sure, his S% is much better than last season, but that’s only because he’s taking less shots. With Chara’s insane slap-shot, Bruins fans should want Chara to be firing shots from the point. Instead, he’s not.
From a defensive perspective, Chara isn’t as physical as he once was. He’s averaging roughly 1 hit per game. That’s really odd to see from Chara. He’s typically a big physical specimen, who isn’t afraid to lay down a big hit and sometimes even drop the gloves.
While his offensive and defensive numbers are down, it’s worth pointing out that Chara’s CF% is pretty good. Given his average time on ice and his age, you’d think that his CF% wouldn’t be great. But, it’s the opposite. Unfortunately, his 51.7 CF%, while good, shouldn’t equate to another 5 million USD cap hit deal next off-season.
Next off-season, the Boston Bruins should look to offer Chara a 2-2.5 million USD cap hit contract. Based on his performance and his age, I think that’s a pretty good deal. Plus, a 2 million USD cap hit would allow the Bruins to make some moves next off-season to better their club and that could potentially pave the way to another run at the Stanley Cup. It’s hard to imagine that Chara wouldn’t be on board to help the Bruins secure another Stanley Cup, so Neely and Sweeney need to put pressure on him to take less.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com
featured photo image credit – Nikos Michals