One of the surprises so far in free agency is that Zdeno Chara remains unsigned more than a month in. While it’s still possible that he opts to stay in Boston, it’s also at least a bit intriguing that he hasn’t caught on anywhere else yet either. Speaking with Boston Hockey Now’s Jimmy Murphy, Chara’s agent Matt Keator indicated that the reason for the delay in his client signing is that they are waiting to see what the format for next season will be before making any decisions on his plan and that there is no rush for him to make a decision.
Of course, while there was hope that there would be some information on how next season would proceed following yesterday’s Board of Governors meeting, that didn’t really happen. All options remain on the table for now and the NHL remains hopeful that they can drop the puck on the regular season on January 1st.
The 43-year-old isn’t in a situation where he needs to show what he can still do; while Chara isn’t the top pairing player he once was, he showed last season that he can still handle a sizable workload, logging just over 21 minutes a night. But that was in a normal schedule and next season certainly doesn’t have the feel of a normal one so it’s understandable that the uncertainty is delaying things here.
One of the more discussed possibilities is the usage of short-term bubbles where a team would play several games in a short period of time before returning home. Another is playing consecutive games at a place on the road to lessen the amount of travel. Neither of these scenarios necessarily suit Chara well as extra back-to-back games at this stage of his career certainly isn’t ideal. And of course, there is the possibility of things changing in-season to further complicate things.
Chara is in a position where he can certainly afford to wait things out. He’s not commanding top dollar on the market at this stage of his career and by now, his camp probably has a pretty good idea of what his next deal will look like, whether it’s from the Bruins or elsewhere. So, while other free agents are playing the waiting game to see what type of money they’ll eventually be able to get, he’ll continue waiting as well but for a different reason entirely.