Zdeno Chara is a freak of nature.
It’s astonishing a player his size, age, and play-style can still find himself logging top-pairing minutes against the NHL’s best and brightest.
That said, he’s looking awfully mortal these days.
Gone are the days of Chara being the sure-thing zone exit that Boston needs for 25 minutes a night and will be able to pull it out in such a fashion. He can still play those ruthless minutes and come out on top, no question about that. But father time gets us all, and none have seen this happen harder in the past couple of years than Zdeno Chara, whose speed and agility has taken a beating with all the injuries, minutes, and years put onto those legs. Which, in my opinion, is just as much his own fault as his partner’s and his deployment, but that’s a story for another time.
But man, did the early months of the season prove one thing: While Chara may need some limitations to how much he can play over the course of a season, Boston desperately needed the guy to help keep the youthful and not-greats of the Bruins Blueline afloat. The few days and games where Chara was on IR or out for a significant amount of time were harrowing.
All that being said, Chara still has some of the most intense shots in the NHL, and has been putting it to good use this year, just at a lower pace than usual, making up his point total in assists, spreading the wealth, and just in general being a solid passer in the offensive zone. His work on the point and the sheer amount of time he eats up remains one of Boston’s anchors in this season of uncertainty.
After all, Boston still doesn’t really have a replacement for the guy. At least...not yet.
This is the final year in which Zdeno Chara will be paid almost 7 million dollars on average, dropping down to about 4 million, giving the Bruins much needed cap flexibility. And while he’s definitely playing like he’s been slowing down some, the simple fact is Boston’s young blueline still needs the remaining 30+ games or so with his veteran experience (that actually means something with how good he’s been over the past decade and into this one) to have the post-season or for their reached potential to be a reality. He doesn’t have to be an all-star...he just has to be there, eating minutes too great for younger players.
Games Played: 46
Season CF% as of 1/29/17: 53.86%