The best Islanders team of players who left and came back

New York Rangers v New York Islanders
New York Rangers v New York Islanders / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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D - Zdeno Chara (1997-01, 2021-22)

Big Z's return to Long Island didn't work out as anticipated when he signed on to play for the organization that drafted him in the third round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.

The 6'9" Slovak debuted for the Islanders at age 20 during the 1997-98 season. After four seasons, he was traded to the Ottawa Senators on June 23, 2001, along with Bill Muckalt and the No. 2 pick overall in a blockbuster draft day deal that sent holdout Alexei Yashin to the Islanders. In Ottawa, Chara became an All-Star and one of the league's most durable defensemen, routinely playing 24-25 minutes a night. In 2006, he signed as a free agent with the Boston Bruins where Chara would be named captain and win a Norris Trophy in 2009 and a Stanley Cup in 2011.

Zdeno Chara
Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

After 14 seasons with Boston, Chara signed on with the Washington Capitals for the 2021 season. Then, with a hunger to play and a desire to chase down a record, he signed with the Islanders on September 18 for his 24th NHL season. On February 24, 2022, Chara broke Chris Chelios' record for most games played by an NHL defenseman when he skated in the 1,652nd game. He played in 72 games with the Islanders, providing mentorship to Noah Dobson and leading by his unmatched work ethic. He scored twice last season, including a memorable goal in the season's final game vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.