Boston Bruins

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

After an off-day spent at The Jeremy Jacobs Fun Palace in Florida, the Boston Bruins announced that they have officially extended captain Zdeno Chara to a one-year contract with a base salary of $2 million and up to $1.75 million in incentives.

Here are some quick thoughts in the immediate aftermath of the deal…

– First of all, Chara’s still got it.

He’s third among Bruins defensemen with 20:59 of time on ice per night, but his 3:02 of shorthanded time on ice per night ranks as tops among B’s skaters (on a Boston killing group ranked 10th in the NHL), and is 13th among all NHL defenders. He’s ranked 19th among NHL d-men in five-on-five possession percentage among defenseman with at least 900 minutes of action their name, and is fifth in shots-for percentage. Teams are averaging just 26.3 shots on net per 60 minutes when Chara is on the ice, which ranks as the fourth-fewest per 60 in all of hockey.

– In essence, there’s simply tremendous value with this new contract.

With a $2 million base salary next season, Chara is currently on the books as the fourth-highest paid Boston defender under contract for next season. He’s cheaper than Torey Krug ($5.25 million), John Moore ($2.75 million), and Kevan Miller ($2.5 million). Only Matt Grzelcyk and his $1.4 million cap hit are more affordable than No. 33, and you know that both of Boston’s pending restricted free agents on the blue line, McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, are going to come in at more than $2 million. That means Chara will likely begin the 2019-20 season as Boston’s sixth-highest paid defender.

As your No. 1 — No. 2 at the very worst — defenseman! There’s value and then there’s that.

– Not only is there an on-ice value to ‘underpaying’ Big Z based on his projected role, it will also go a hell of a long way when it comes to re-signing those aforementioned RFAs on the backend, Carlo and McAvoy.

With Chara taken care of, the Bruins are currently projected to have just under $14 million available to re-sign Carlo and McAvoy, as well as restricted free agent forward Danton Heinen. Noel Acciari and trade deadline pickup Marcus Johansson are both unrestricted free agents for the Bruins, as well. Assuming McAvoy remains around the $6.5-7 million per year projection or so, the Bruins should still have more than enough to fit the rest of this group in under the cap (Johansson is probably a goner given the B’s long-term plans up front, and Acciari would be an affordable re-sign if they’d like).

– This is officially the future with Chara. Speaking with Chara at the conclusion of the 2018 season, and again before the start of this season, he remains unsure when he’ll hang them up. He’s spoken to former teammates about their decisions to retire, and has wondered when his time will come. “Some say 42, some say 45,” Chara told me. (Chara, of course, turned 42 earlier this month, and is now signed through his Age-43 season, meaning the latter may be a target for him.)

But if he continues to be an effective, affordable defenseman — which he most certainly is, especially at this price — the Bruins will have no problem going year-by-year with their captain of 13 years.

This is what Nicklas Lidstrom did in Detroit, and what the Sharks are now doing with Joe Thornton. This is pretty much a no-lose situation, too, as all parties involved seem to be mindful of the league’s salary cap, and want to find the way to keep No. 33 around without potentially losing a critical piece of their future or an asset to put them over the top.

Both Chara and Sweeney will speak to the media before tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers. 

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has also been a voting member of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association since 2013. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.