At the end of the final game of the New York Islanders 2021-22 regular season, we all saw Zdeno Chara do what looked like a ceremonial goodbye to his teammates and the fans. He shook everyone's hands, including everyone from the Tampa Bay Lightning. We all thought that was surely it for the future Hall of Famer.
But that might not necessarily be the case. According to Chara's agent, his client is going to take some time before deciding what the next step is exactly:
"“He’s going to take the summer with his family and assess where he’s at physically, where his family’s at, and make a decision in September. No rush.” "- Matt Keator (Chara's agent)
New York Islanders: Zdeno Chara hasn't yet decided immediate future
So we, and the rest of the NHL, won't know if the 45-year-old defenseman wants to play one more season in the league until closer to the start of the season.
Maybe you're worried that the Islanders bring him back another year. And while that's certainly possible I think it's quite unlikely for the Isles.
The main benefit of having Chara on the squad was his experience and how he was able to download that onto human sponge Noah Dobson. What Chara was able to do for a young Noah Dobson was invaluable even if his play wasn't.
The Islanders don't have that need going forward. Their defensive core of Pelech, Pulock, Dobson, and Mayfield needs more support than Zdeno Chara can offer.
Add Robin Salo on that bottom pair with Scott Mayfield and the only likely gap for the Islander blue line is on the second pair. That's not a role Chara needs to fill, again. He shouldn't have filled that role last season either.
If Chara wants to come back for a 25th NHL season, great. But not with the Islanders.