By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
With a 56-game 2021 season now official, Bruins captain and current free agent Zdeno Chara is officially on the clock in regards to his decision to come back for what would be a 23rd NHL campaign.
And Chara’s agent, Matt Keator, confirmed to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that they’ve indeed started the process.
“The Bruins have been very communicative with us about how they see things moving forward,” Keator, whose client has drawn interest from multiple teams, told LeBrun. “Now that we know the format of the season we will be assessing Z’s options going forward.”
Boston’s captain since 2006, the 43-year-old Chara is coming off a 2019-20 season featuring five goals and 14 points for the second straight campaign, along with a plus-26 rating that ranked as the eighth-best in hockey, in 68 games. Chara even got some Norris Trophy love, finishing 19th in 2019-20 voting for the award recognizing the league’s top defenseman.
Speaking with reporters earlier this offseason, Chara acknowledged his desire to continue playing for the Bruins. The Bruins, meanwhile, have stated they’re simply waiting for Chara to initiate talks.
General manager Don Sweeney’s relatively quiet offseason on the free agent and trade front — the Bruins let Torey Krug walk and re-signed Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, and Kevan Miller — would lead you to believe that there is still a home for Chara in Boston. But the team has also discussed what a Chara-less group may look like, leading you to believe that there’s a potentially real possibility that the B’s are indeed all-in on a youth movement on defense.
The 6-foot-9 Chara is one of just six skaters in franchise history to suit up for at least 1,000 games with the Bruins.
The Bruins have just under $3 million in available cap space.