Heading into free agency, the Bruins had plenty of decisions to make.
Upgrade on the wing? Bolstering the defense? Adding some depth? All valid questions, and all valid topics for discussion.
One of the free agency question marks, however, seemed less like a question mark and more like a formality: re-signing captain Zdeno Chara.
Sure, we all knew that Chara was hitting the open market for the first time in more than a decade. But he wanted to keep playing, the Bruins wanted him back...piece of cake, right?
A week into free agency, the Bruins haven’t made a new deal with their captain, and while it’s not exactly a cause for concern, it’s certainly developing into an interesting situation.
On TSN’s Insider Trading, Pierre LeBrun mentioned that he touched base with Matt Keator, Chara’s agent, to get an update on where things stand.
From that segment:
“Keator’s answer was ‘looking at all options.’ I have to say that the Bruins are the front-runner, but other teams keep calling.”
The fact that other teams are interested in bringing Chara into the mix comes as no surprise. Chara isn’t the defenseman he used to be, but he still has plenty of value.
Whether it’s a young team looking for veteran leadership or a Cup contender looking for one more depth piece, Chara undoubtedly has plenty of suitors.
LeBrun went on to add that Chara is in no hurry to make his next move, indicating that he’s perfectly happy to take his time and that uncertainty around next season is part of what he’s considering.
“One thing he mentioned is the format for next season is of particular interest to Chara. He’s got a young family, so there’s a lot of factors to consider...bottom line is right now, Big Z’s in a holding pattern.”
It makes sense, really. I mentioned when the Bruins’ bubble burst that it was hard to imagine Chara wanted to end his career in an empty arena during a pandemic.
However, it’s equally hard to imagine the 43-year-old defenseman being interested in spending another long stretch of time in any sort of bubble format.
The NHL hasn’t said if it’s definitely revisiting the bubble format when the season restarts, but selling guys on a few weeks in a bubble for a shot at the Cup is a lot different from putting guys in a bubble indefinitely.
There are fans who are split on Chara and whether or not he should be brought back. But with Torey Krug gone and no other reinforcements on the horizon, it’d be a tough ask for the Bruins to lose two of their three best defensemen in a single offseason and just keep chugging along.
I still can’t see Chara signing elsewhere, but I’ve been wrong before.
Ultimately, I think a deal gets done in the coming weeks, but the Bruins need to be careful with how long they let Chara linger on the open market.