Zdeno Chara has been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs but does it make sense for the team to sign the veteran?
Defense has been the biggest issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the team addressed that this offseason. However, are they completely set on this roster moving forward?
The Zdeno Chara situation is interesting. He’s played for the Boston Bruins since 2006 and is headed straight to the Hockey Hall of Fame once he retires. Although he’s 43-years-old, he still has a lot to offer and can help a team win. As a result, you’d think that he would have signed with the Bruins by now, right?
In an article by Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, he mentioned that Chara and the Bruins were “far apart” in regards to a contract. However, within that same piece, that quote was contradicted as Chara’s agent mentioned the following: “Waiting On Format For New Season. No Rush.”
So by the sounds of it, Chara could just be waiting to see what the season could look like before agreeing to a contract, which is perfectly fair. If the NHL decides to play in a bubble again or there’s a ton of back-to-back games, maybe Chara wouldn’t want to sign in Boston, because he doesn’t think his body can handle that.
Or maybe, he’s waiting for the team to sign Jake DeBrusk (who’s an RFA) before agreeing to terms on a deal, so that the team could afford both of them. DeBrusk is a great young player and although Chara wants to get paid, I’m sure he would be willing to take whatever’s left, as he’s already made $97M in career salary.
Could the Toronto Maple Leafs Actually Sign Chara?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are squeezed up against the salary cap but that doesn’t mean they could be finished moving and shaking. Chara signed a $2M contract last season, so if he took that number again, the team could do a few things to make it work.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs pursued “Big Z”, it would make their team much better. The left-handed shot defenseman would provide a stability that no other player on the team can bring and the organization would be screaming to their players that they are in a “win-now mode.” It would essentially be a Stanley Cup or bust season (which it should be) if you had a line-up that included Joe Thornton, Zdeno Chara and Jason Spezza.
Bringing in Chara would ultimately push Travis Dermott and Rasmus Sandin out of the regular line-up and the team would most likely have a defensive core that looked something like this:
- 1st Pair: Morgan Rielly – T.J. Brodie
- 2nd Pair: Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl
- 3rd Pair: Zdeno Chara – Mikko Lehtonen
- Extras: Zach Bogosian, Rasmus Sandin, Travis Dermott
In my opinion, Toronto would be a perfect fit because of their defensive depth. At his age, and especially in a shortened season, Chara would never have to play in a back-to-back because the team could afford to sit him. Depending on who else the Boston Bruins may add, they currently don’t have that type of depth, so the future Hall-of-Famer would be looked upon to play every night in their line-up.
His Stanley Cup pedigree and work-ethic would be a valuable asset, as well. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been a team that has relied too much on skill over the past few seasons, instead of hard-work, so Chara would instantly install that in every player. Not only that, but the ability to have “Big Z” on your team instead of going up against him is a nice feeling, since the Boston Bruins have given Leafs fans nightmares for years.
Even though Toronto upgraded their defense and is tight against the salary cap, they should be monitoring the Chara situation closely. If the Boston Bruins cannot come to an agreement with him and the veteran wants to continue to play, the Toronto Maple Leafs would be a great destination.
Frederick Gauthier was the last player to wear #33 for the Toronto Maple Leafs, so Chara would bring a nice freshness to that number if he headed north.