With one more full season, Zdeno Chara would take the lead among all NHL defensemen in career games played. He currently sits in fifth, just 43 games behind the leader Chris Chelios, who played until he was 48. Chara isn’t quite that old at 44, and is coming off a relatively effective season with the Washington Capitals. If he intends on playing again this season as expected, there’s an old rival interested in his services. According to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic, the St. Louis Blues have expressed interest in Chara, as they did in the 2020 offseason before he signed with the Capitals.
Chara and the Blues know each other very well from their 2019 Stanley Cup Final, which went the full seven games and resulted in St. Louis’ first franchise championship. As usual, the veteran defenseman was dealing with injuries by the time the title series came around—this time playing with a broken jaw—but still managed three points in the seven games. Chara is up to 200 playoff games in his career, but hasn’t been able to hoist the trophy since 2011.
It also wouldn’t be the first defenseman from that 2019 series that the Blues would be targeting; they signed Torey Krug to a seven-year, $45.5MM contract last fall after losing captain Alex Pietrangelo to free agency. But as Rutherford writes, Chara is a long-shot for the Blues, as the veteran defenseman would like to stay as close to his family in Boston as possible with everything else equal.
There is still a place for Chara in the league, as a defenseman that is deployed almost solely in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill, but he’s obviously not what he used to be. He agreed to a one-year deal last season that paid him just $795K in base salary with another $730K in potential performance bonuses, but even that may be more than he gets this time around. He averaged just over 18 minutes this season for the Capitals, the first time since 1999 that he was under the 21-minute mark over a full season.