Zdeno Chara is “interested in staying in Boston,” according to his agent Matt Keator, yet as of Tuesday it’s still unclear whether the Bruins will bring him back for another year.
Keator told The Boston Globe‘s Matt Porter that the longtime defenseman “could retire” or “could pick another team,” but it appears staying with the Bruins is his top priority.
“I’ve had 20-plus teams call me, but honestly, we haven’t gotten too into that,” Keator told Porter on Monday. “Our focus right now, his focus right now, is to talk to the Bruins, and let’s see where it goes.”
Keator added that the sides still have time. Training camp is slated to begin in early January and the 56-game season isn’t scheduled to start until Jan 13.
In the meantime, Bruins president Cam Neely and Co. are figuring out what makes the most sense with Chara. The captain turns 44 in March and has played just 13 games in the last nine months.
Zdeno Chara’s agent tells me that “First and foremost, he’s interested in staying in Boston.”
“He could retire. Or he could pick another team. I’ve had 20-plus teams call me, but honestly, we haven’t gotten too into that.”https://t.co/YXAIS0uvnW
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) December 22, 2020
“I think it really depends on what he feels he can do to help us, and we have to feel the same way,” Neely said Monday. “How that looks – is that something that he would be comfortable with, how we maybe envision it looking, compared to maybe how he feels it may look?”
Neely said it’s “tough to say” what Chara’s potential role could be. He made it clear the Bruins respect everything Chara has done for the organization, and now is the time to determine how much he can help them going forward.
Former first-round picks Jakub Zboril, 23, and Urho Vaakanainen, 21, might have less of a chance to develop if Chara returns.
“It’s really just a matter of what his desire is and how the coaching staff and we feel what our lineup should look like, or could look like, depending on the development of some of these young guys,” Neely said.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 21, 2020
According to Porter, money doesn’t appear to be a major issue, as the Bruins have just shy of $3 million in cap room. Porter believes that would be enough for Chara, who last year earned $2 million in base salary with $1.75 million in performance bonuses.
Neely noted that the Bruins could still look for a defenseman via trade or free agency as well.
“I still think we’d like to explore our back end a little bit,” he said. “Even though we feel we’ve got some guys that can step in, it’s just a matter of the experience piece that everybody likes. You don’t get experience until you play.”
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