It has become impossible to picture Zdeno Chara finishing his career anywhere else but Boston. When he reached free-agency this fall, it seemed that the only thing stopping him from returning to the Bruins would be retirement. That does not appear to be the case anymore.
According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, Chara's agent said it is not guaranteed Big Z is back with the Bruins for 2021. The 43-year-old future hall of famer is combing over every scenario.
While it is obvious Chara's days of competing for the Norris and logging 25 minutes a night are behind him. And if he is back for his 15th season as B's captain, he should be given a lesser role. 15 minutes a night killing penalties and mentoring the young Bruins defensemen is a perfect role for Chara at this stage of his career.
Having said that, Boston would be foolish to have both of their top 2 pairing left-shot defensemen leave in the same off-season. Torey Krug and his 50 plus points are already gone to St. Louis. He was one of the most dynamic offensive d-men in the league and certainly the best in Boston's core.
Even with Chara's speed deteriorating, he still servers a crucial role in the Bruins penalty kill. His mere presence and veteran knowledge are immeasurable out on the ice. He knows how to take away space and limit the opponent's high danger chances.
Boston was one of the best teams in the league on the power play and penalty kill. Krug's departure hurts their man advantage and if Chara moves on their penalty kill will have a massive hole. Not to mention, the work ethic and leadership components both of those players bring to the rink on a daily basis will be gone.
That would leave Matt Grzelcyk as the remaining left-shot defenseman from the top 6. He recently inked a 4 year deal totaling $14.75 million. He is a very solid player, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to an increased role. There is a good chance he is Charlie McAvoy's primary partner on the top pairing this season.
The young left-shot defensemen remaining on the Bruins' depth chart, Jermeny Luzon, Urho Vaakaninen, and Jakub Zboril, all have promise. However, they have yet to prove they can compete in the NHL consistently.
Lauzon has appeared in 35 regular-season NHL games, Vaakaninen 7, and Zboril 2.
The other option on Boston's left-side is John Moore, who has struggled to continually find time in the Bruins lineup since signing with the team in 2018-2019.
Krug is already hard enough to replace, but losing Chara would be a disaster. He is invaluable and serves an important role to the Bruins on and off the ice. It would be unacceptable to have another team sign him after all he has done for the origination.
Story by Chad Jones
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