Boston Bruins star Zdeno Chara looks to evolve at age 40

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 20: Zdeno Chara
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 20: Zdeno Chara /

Zdeno Chara is looking to evolve at the age of 40.  Can the Boston Bruins star continue to strive entering another season in the NHL?

Boston Bruins star Zdeno Chara is a defenseman like none we have seen before. Standing at 6’9″ 250 pounds he has physical ability that most defenders will never have.  His reach allows him to erase what seems like an open lane for forwards in a moment’s notice. He does have some help with an enormous 65-inch stick.

The issue is that now he is 40 years old. The giant seems to be slow on the ice at times and this can lead to him putting Tuukka Rask in some difficult situations.

There is no doubt that Chara was a great defenseman. There is no doubt that he is still a quality defenseman. Look at his numbers from last season.

Chara had an average time on ice per game of 23:20 which is just shy of being in the top 25 of all defenders. The man is the third oldest player in the NHL right now so that is quite a feat. Chara put up 10 goals and 19 points which isn’t too shabby.

Our own Chad Zimmerman wrote a glowing article about the career of “Big Z”. A career that should get the defenseman a spot in the hockey hall of fame, but father time is undefeated and I think this season is where we see the effects.

Season predictions

This season will be an interesting one for Chara. He will most likely still be our top line defenseman but he is going to need fewer minutes overall. It may be some days off for rest but I don’t see him being able to have an effort like last season.

I expect the pairing of McAvoy and Chara to be a dangerous one but Chara won’t be doing most of the damage.  There’s no doubt that Z still has one of the strongest shots in the league, but I think Charlie McAvoy will be doing most of the scoring on the top line.

Chara should be a more stay at home defenseman. I want to see McAvoy pinching down and getting involved in the offense.

With that, I think Bruins fans can expect around 7 goals from the Captain and 15-20 assists. With the new role, I see Chara attaining he will have more opportunities to set people up then score for himself.

Chara’s new Role

The Boston Bruins are looking at an overall youth movement in the organization. Now with the defense, we have guys like McAvoy, Torey Krug, and Brandon Carlo who are young guys who will be top talents for the team. Even Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller still are reasonably young to fill up the bottom of the top-6 defenseman. Also, Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon are improving and could join the team in a year or two.

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With that in mind, Chara is going to be a mentor to these players but could also lose that top line spot in the process. If he breaks down this season it won’t be good for the Captain’s long-term future in Boston. He should be looking to set these guys up more and not just try to unleash his slap-shot and pray it hits the net. He’s going to have to be a stay at home defenseman and allow the quicker and younger defenseman to try and make something happen in the offensive zone.

Chara’s future

Even at the age of 4o Zdeno Chara has stated that he wants to continue to play. CSNNE”s Joe Haggerty wrote about the defenseman’s future and Chara made his intentions clear.

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"“I love the game. I love everything about it. I love the sacrifice and I love the training. There are so many things that are so positive [about playing in the NHL]. At my age I look at what I can still do and just really enjoy it. I just want to keep improving and play for as long as I can.”  “I always felt I can play for a long time if I’m in good shape and if I can be healthy. So that’s what I wish for, that I can be healthy and play a long time while still being really effective and consistent.“I definitely want to play beyond this season. It’s really hard to put a number on it. Some people do and some people don’t. I just obviously want to keep playing [in the NHL] beyond this season. I love this game too much. I have made no secrets about it. I want to stay here [with the Bruins] and continue to play.”"

If Zdeno wants to stay here he is going to have to take a hometown discount.  The Boston Bruins can’t overpay and especially not add too many years to the contract. Depending on Chara’s output this season the Bruins should offer him a 2-year deal. If he seems to break down though, I feel we may have to let Chara go. There is no doubting the player he was but we can’t be overpaying for what would be a 42-year-old defenseman.

Next: 2017-2018 Boston Bruins season preview

Zdeno Chara was a big part of the 2011 Stanley Cup and will always have a spot in Bruins fans hearts, but with the direction, the franchise going it may be time to say goodbye.