After signing Erik Gustafsson to a PTO earlier in the week, the New York Islanders continued to add depth to their blue line. The team announced on Twitter that they’ve signed veteran defenseman, Zdeno Chara to a one-year deal.
As of now, the salary information isn’t available but based on what he signed for last season it shouldn’t be too much over the veteran minimum. He’s coming off a deal that was $795,000 against the cap with Washington last season.
Last year, Big Z played in 55 games for Washington putting up 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) while averaging 18:19 per night. It was the first season he averaged under 20 minutes since he was an Islander in 1998-1999.
Chara was fourth in 5v5 ice time for Washington last year for defensemen and was still used on the penalty kill quite a bit finishing with 148:43 of ice time on the PK which was the leader for Capitals defensemen.
The Islanders aren’t going to need him to play big minutes, but if they can get him in that 16-18 minute range on most nights that would be a home run for them. I’ve seen a few iterations of the defensive core for next year but I think my favorite is:
Pelech – Pulock
Chara – Dobson
Greene – Mayfield
I trust Zdeno Chara more than Andy Greene, despite him being 44-years-old. A pairing with Noah Dobson, who will likely fill the puck mover role in this d-core would make the most sense. A Chara and Mayfield pairing might be too slow to compete consistently enough at this level.
Then, the Isles third pair could be Greene – Mayfield which is more of your prototypical “shutdown” pair.
It’s a cool story to see Chara return after all these years. He was drafted by the Islanders back in 1996 and unfortunately was a Mike Milbury casualty as he was flipped to Ottawa in the infamous Alexei Yashin deal back in 2001.
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Chara has 1,608 games of NHL experience under his belt and 666 points to go along with it. If he can even be 80 percent the player he was towards the end in Boston, the Islanders would be in good shape.