On Saturday it was announced that the New York Islanders signed 44=year-old defenseman Zdeno Chara. The deal is for one year and the monetary terms are still unknown. The signing helps fill a hole at left defense as a result of trading Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings earlier this offseason.
Right Back Where He Started From
Chara will always be best known for his years as captain and multiple-time all-star with the Boston Bruins. But Chara got his start in the NHL with the Islanders when they selected him in the third round of the 1997 draft. He played four seasons with the team where he was still developing as an NHL defenseman. In 2001 he was the main piece of an ill-fated trade for Ottawa Senators center Alexei Yashin. It was after this trade that Chara blossomed into the star defenseman that got him seven all-star appearances and a Norris Trophy. Now, 20 years after the Islanders drafted Chara, he’s coming back to Long Island to help the team contend for a Stanley Cup.
What Chara Brings To The Team
Chara’s style of game blends in perfectly with the system Barry Trotz has in place. He’s an extremely intelligent defensive player who can also play a very physical game. These things remain true even as he enters his 24th NHL season. Chara is a player Trotz can trust to be a stable defensive presence as well as a leader on and off the ice. What Chara also brings to the team is his notoriously powerful slap shot. His best scoring days are long behind him, but he could see an uptick in opportunities to use that slap shot. Given how passive the team can be on offense, he has the opportunity to take a lot more shots. Depending on how Trotz organizes the lineup, he could even see some power-play time to utilize that shot as well.
The Down Side
While Chara’s style is perfect for Islanders hockey, it doesn’t come close to the style of Nick Leddy’s game. This may not seem too important at first glance, but it could be a potential problem this season. Leddy had 31 points as a defenseman and was a regular contributor on the team’s power play. Chara will be lucky to get near the 20 point mark, and he hasn’t registered a point on the power play since 2018-19. With Pelech, Greene and Chara as the three left-side starters, none of them provide any consistent offensive production. The second and third line forwards may miss having a consistent offensive defenseman to work with this season.
Overall, what Chara brings to this team far outweighs any concern about his offensive consistency. The Islanders’ success is due to their excellent defense, and Chara was the best option on the free-agent market to add to that defense. Having a disciplined veteran like Chara playing will be a big help in going on another deep playoff run. Add on his leadership and plentiful playoff experience and Chara seems to be a perfect fit for this Islanders team as they seek a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Featured image courtesy of Yahoo! Sports
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