25 years ago, the New York Islanders selected Zdeno Chara in the third round of the 1996 NHL Draft. He’d play 231 games for New York before being involved in the trade to bring Alexi Yashin to Long Island.
It was one of Mike Milbury’s numerous blunders, but now a quarter of a century later, the Islanders have the chance to right the wrong. They brought him in on an undisclosed one-year deal to play on their blue line.
He spent last year with the Washington Capitals and played in 55 regular-season games. In those games, he had 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) while averaging 18:19 seconds of ice time. Now, Chara is a long way removed from playing big minutes.
His ice time went down a decent-sized chunk over the past four years, as he’s now into his 40’s. The Islanders don’t need him playing 25 minutes a night or more like what he was doing in his prime.
Instead, they’re going to just ask him to be a serviceable second or third pair d-man, and that’s totally still in the cards even at 44 years of age.
2021-2022 Expectations for Zdeno Chara
Through three days of camp, Noah Dobson has been stapled to Zdeno Chara’s right side. It may change as camp goes on but it shouldn’t, a pair of Chara – Dobson is really enticing and that’s what the Islanders should go with on the second pair this year.
Who’s better to help along with a young Dobson than Chara? I don’t think there are very many better answers in the entire league let alone on this team.
Big Z will play just over 18 minutes a night on the second pair. He will also be third in penalty kill time for defensemen behind Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, in that order.
Chara will play in 76 games for the Islanders this year putting up 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists). The production is nowhere close to what it used to be but once again, it’s about developing Noah Dobson along not having Chara play like it’s 2011.
After the season, Zdeno Chara will call it a career. He’ll retire an Islander, right back to where he started his career in the NHL.