I hesitate to bring this topic up so soon after the rabid fan reaction to the Bruins deciding not re-sign Shawn Thornton. It’s always a sensitive subject for Bruins fans and even more so when mentioning someone of Zdeno Chara’s ilk. The B’s captain has given his team (and fans) so much to cheer about over the years including a Stanley Cup. But we have to ask ourselves, at 37 years of age, with a huge salary ($6,916,667 per year for 4 more years), is Chara worth hanging onto when he’s showing signs of decline or should the team start to field trade offers?
Big Z’s offensive numbers are beyond reproach, with excellent numbers of; 17G, 23A, 40P during the Regular season and fair numbers of; 2G, 2A for 4 points in 12 Playoff games. His offensive contributions have never been an issue but his skating ability and advanced defensive statistics are another story. The advanced stat’s show Chara is in rapid decline. While looking at stats such as Corsi and/or Fenwick, it shows Chara is no longer a #1 defenseman and is now a #2.
As time goes on and the continued inability to reduce Chara’s “minutes”, we have to ask ourselves if they wouldn’t be better off trading him now vs trying to make up for his decline?
With a much younger player such as Johnny Boychuk set to become a free agent after next season, would the B’s be better off extending Johnny and trading Chara?
Johnny is seven years younger than Chara but is unable to give his team the same kind of offense that big “Z” can.
Boychuk’s defensive scale is on the upward trend vs Chara’s is in decline.
So it seems to me the Bruins and Peter Chiarelli have some decisions to make this off season. Trade their captain before he becomes even more of a defensive liability, trade Boychuk while he’s in his prime or keep both and wait until the following season, where they would risk Johnny leaving as a free agent, receiving no compensation.
There are also free agent players, defenseman in particular that can’t be ignored. The addition of someone like Anton Stralman from the NY Rangers would drastically improve the Bruins defense. Stralman’s advanced defensive stats, like Boychuk’s, are on the upward trend. The problem becomes, trying to find the necessary funds to sign him with.
If I were the Bruins, I would listen to offers for Chara but I wouldn’t pull the trigger unless it made perfect sense. If they were able to make a trade (that made sense), gain financial flexibility, then they could use those funds to sign younger, faster players, further improving the team for now and the future. What would you do?