Yesterday, the Boston Bruins signed defenseman Zdeno Chara to a one-year contract extension.
Per the below tweet from the Boston Bruins official twitter account, Chara will be earning a salary of 2 million USD. Plus, he’ll have the chance to bring home an additional 1.75 million USD. The 1.75 million USD is a performance bonus.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 23, 2019
CapFriendly.com indicates exactly what the performance bonuses entail. If Chara plays in 10 games, he’ll earn an addition 1.25 million USD. He’ll earn an extra 250,000 USD if the Bruins make it to the playoffs and another 250,000 USD if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup. It’s the same bonus structure as Chara’s bonus for this season.
How Has Chara Been Doing?
In addition, Chara’s deal carries an average annual value of 3.75 million USD. While that might seem high for a 42-year-old defenseman, it’s not. This season, Chara has proven to the Bruins organization and fans across the NHL that he’s still pivotal to the Bruins’ success. In 56 games played, he’s tallied 5 goals, 8 assists, 2 power-play points, 88 shots, 5.7 shooting percentage, an average time on ice of 21:03, 81 blocks, 72 hits and 26 take-aways. Plus, he’s put up solid possession stats. Chara has managed to put a 53.9 corsi-for percentage and a 54.9 fenwick-for percentage.
Over the past couple of seasons, Bruins fans have seen a drop in Chara’s offensive game. Chara is no longer that slap-shot goal threat that he once was. But, the Bruins don’t need Chara to fire slap-shot after slap-shot for goals as the Bruins have solid offensive defensemen including Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug.
Additionally, Chara’s physicality isn’t the same. This season, he’s taking a lot less hits than seasons past. This season, Chara is averaging 1.29 hits per game. That’s a significant drop when you compare it to last season’s numbers. In Chara’s 2017-2018 campaign, he average 1.93 hit per game.
But, don’t let Chara’s decline in physicality scare you, he’s still been one of the best defensemen for the Bruins. If you don’t believe me, let’s look at the visual below. In the visual from Sean Tierney, the graph indicates that Chara’s break-up percentage is considerably high, but his possession exit percentage is a tad low. Honestly, that’s a not something to worry about. Chara’s defensive line-mate McAvoy prefers to carry the puck. He’s more of two-way defenseman while Chara over time has become more of a shut down defenseman, so it shouldn’t cause alarm for Bruins fans. It’s also worth bringing up that Chara’s break-up percentage is impressive especially given his age.
visual by Sean Tierney, stats from Corey Sznajder
Not Hurting The Bruins Cap Hat
Lastly, Chara isn’t hurting the Bruins cap hit. If you look at the Bruins CapFriendly.com page, you’ll notice that his cap hit for next season is 2 million USD. That’s peanuts for a defenseman who is consistently a reliable top four defenseman.
Plus, Chara has done Don Sweeney and Cam Neely a favour by taking a lot less compared to this season’s cap hit of 5 million USD. By taking less money, Chara is allowing the Bruins to have some extra cash in their pocket, which will allow the Bruins to re-sign their restricted free agents (McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen).
All-in-all, it’s not a bad extension. Chara gets to lace up his skates for another season, he gets another chance to win the Stanley Cup in Boston and the Bruins have cap space to retain their RFAs. Not a bad deal by any means.
stats from hockey-reference.com, NHL.com and Corey Sznajder
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals