Washington Capitals Grades: Zdeno Chara 2021 Report Card

Zdeno Chara, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Zdeno Chara, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Next up on our Washington Capitals Report Card series is Zdeno Chara, who just finished his first season with the team after signing a one-year deal in December. As the oldest player in the league this year, Chara was a solid anchor on Washington’s blue line.

Before the season, Chara signed a one-year, $795,000 contract with the Capitals as a free agent, leaving the Boston Bruins after 14 years. The 44-year old said he chose Washington because they promised him a regular role. Big Z suited up in all but one game during the regular season, scoring two goals and eight assists. He also played in all five playoff games against his former team.

The Slovakian was brought in for a defensive boost on the blue line which features rovers like John Carlson, Justin Schultz and Dmitry Orlov. In 55 regular-season games, Chara logged 148 minutes on the ice while shorthanded, which is the most of any defenseman on the team. Alongside Nick Jensen, the two were the primary penalty-killing pairing on the Caps’ 11th ranked unit.

Chara was also one of 12 Washington players to finish the regular season with a “plus” rating while being one of four in the playoffs. The 6’9 defender also threw 88 hits during the regular season, good for sixth on the team. It was also more hits than Chara had in both of his previous two seasons in Boston where he played more games.

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Chara’s future with the Capitals, and in the NHL for that matter, remains unclear. Next season would be his 24th in the league after being drafted in 1996. His 1,608 career games played is the fifth-most in NHL history. Another full season could see Chara break Chris Chelios’s record of 1,651.

However, Chara has stated that he will take some time before deciding on his future. Based on what he showed this past season, he could find himself on an NHL roster next year.

Caps GM Brian MacLellan says he will wait on Chara’s decision before deciding to re-sign him.

"“I thought he played great for us, he was a great addition, I thought our third pair was solid all year with him and (Nick) Jensen,” MacLellan said in his end-of-season press conference. “I think we’ll wait to talk to him to see what his plan is before we decide that.”"

But with limited cap space, and Alex Ovechkin needing a new contract, there may not be room for a 44-year old veteran on the Caps blue line.

Next. Washington Capitals Grades: Craig Anderson 2021 Report Card. dark

Grade B: Chara had about as successful of a season as a 23-year veteran defenseman could have on a new team. He was not a liability on the ice and showed he could be trusted defensively in pivotal moments of games. Surely, Chara’s presence in the dressing room also paid dividends to the Capitals, who will have to make a tough decision on whether or not to re-sign him.