Bruins

Bruins sign Zdeno Chara to a one-year, team-friendly extension

Bruins sign Zdeno Chara to a one-year, team-friendly extension

Zdeno Chara continues to get the Tim Wakefield treatment by the Boston Bruins, which means a string of one-year deals in perpetuity until the 42-year-old B’s captain decides to hang it up one of these days.

The Bruins announced on Saturday morning that they have signed the 42-year-old Chara to a one-year extension for next season worth $2 million in base salary along with another $1.75 million in reachable incentives.

Chara is in his 21st NHL season and 13th with Boston, and has appeared in 55 games this season while posting four goals and seven assists along with a plus-16 rating as a shutdown defenseman for the Black and Gold. While Chara is still effective as a shutdown D-man and is arguably still the best penalty killer going in the NHL, it’s also clear this season that age is beginning to slow him down a little bit at 42 years old. The 20:59 of ice time per game for Chara this season is the lowest of his career as the Bruins have focused on reducing his workload, and adding more to the plate of 21-year-old workhorse defenseman Charlie McAvoy.  

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The $2 million contract is excellent value for an aging, still-effective player in Chara that’s still a legit top-4 NHL defenseman at the NHL level, even if his Norris Trophy days and bigger offensive producer days are also now in the rearview mirror. The $2 million deal also gives the Bruins plenty of salary cap flexibility in helping them sign both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, a couple of young RFA’s that are due for big raises on their second contracts this summer.  The lowered salary and cap hit for Chara more than makes up for any reductions to Chara’s game as he continues to play into his mid-40’s with a goal of lacing them up until at least the age of 45 years old. Besides, one can’t really put a price tag on the leadership, work ethic, toughness and intimidation level that Chara brings to the table as a 6-foot-9 defenseman that’s seen and done just about everything at the NHL level over the last two decades. It will be interesting to see if both Chara and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can reach those career mile-posts for themselves as they largely put off any big effects to their games from Father Time.

The 42-year-old defenseman has led the Bruins to a postseason berth in nine of his 12 completed seasons with the team, including a Stanley Cup Championship in 2010-11. He ranks sixth in franchise history in games played (948), and fourth in points by a defenseman (452) behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Bobby Orr (888), and Dit Clapper (474).

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Is McAvoy really in line for 'a huge contract' with Bruins? Maybe not

Is McAvoy really in line for 'a huge contract' with Bruins? Maybe not

There’s quite the interesting debate going on these days about just how much Bruins RFA defenseman Charlie McAvoy should get on his second contract.

NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk tweeted out a story proclaiming that both McAvoy and Columbus Blue Jackets D-man Zach Werenski should be in line for “huge contracts” and conjured up some numbers that put those two young defenseman in a class with Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson at the same stage of their careers.

Certainly the 21-year-old McAvoy and 21-year-old Werenski have shown promise as excellent puck-movers and developing two-way D-men in their short NHL careers. But to lump the two of them together into the same class is not something I’m sure the Bruins would do at this point in their separate negotiations.

First off, both Doughty and Karlsson were Norris Trophy finalists before they got their massive contracts. Secondly, do you know how many games Doughty missed with injuries before he signed his eight-year, $56 million contract?

He missed seven NHL games with injuries in his first three seasons with the Kings, including just one in his first two seasons in Los Angeles. Doughty also put together a 16-goal, 59-point masterpiece sophomore season, all while averaging 24 plus minutes of ice time per game over those first three NHL seasons in L.A.

All due respect to a special talent in McAvoy who idolizes Doughty, but he hasn’t even been close to that kind of dominance yet in his very promising, young NHL career. He was brilliant in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and he's shown big time flashes for the B's, but he's also missed almost 50 games with injuries over the last two years. 

Werenski has averaged 13 goals and 40 points in his three NHL seasons with Columbus and missed a total of nine NHL games in his first two seasons before playing the full 82-game schedule this past season for the Blue Jackets. He’s a lot closer to Doughty in terms of a comparable situation at this point in his young NHL career.

Werenski has the ability to be offer-sheeted by other prospective NHL teams, and has all the makings of an RFA who could cash in on something similar to the massive eight-year, $60 million deal signed by Florida’s Aaron Ekblad a couple of seasons ago.

McAvoy, on the other hand, has topped out at seven goals and 32 points in the better of his two NHL seasons (his rookie campaign) and has missed a whopping 47 games due to injuries in his first two seasons. McAvoy also can’t be tendered with an offer sheet by other NHL teams because he has fewer than three full years of NHL service based on the 40-game rule adopted by the league when it comes to restricted free agents.

So really there are very few parallels between Werenski’s negotiating leverage right now and McAvoy’s situation headed into his third NHL season with Boston.

If McAvoy wants to get the “huge contract” with the B’s then he’s going to have to earn it with a dominant, healthy season that he has yet to put together at the NHL level. It’s really as simple as that, regardless of his Corsi numbers when he has been healthy over the last two seasons.

The best course of action for both the Bruins and McAvoy?

It would be sign a bridge contract for a couple of years where the young D-man gets the $5-6 million per season based on his closest comparable players (Esa Lindell, for one), and puts together the kind of years that would put him closer to the Doughty/Karlsson/Ekblad max contract neighborhood that he’s clearly aspiring to at this point.

Basically, McAvoy at this point will need to sign the qualifying offer given to him by the Bruins or sit out until he agrees to a long-term second deal with the Boston. The reality is this: The Bruins young D-man has zero leverage this time around in negotiations aside from being a key player for the B's in both their present and future plans. Then again, the Bruins did pretty well in the first half last season when McAvoy was barely a presence while battling through concussion-related issues, and before he put together a very strong second half and postseason during their run to Game 7 of the Cup Final.

There’s no reason to think they can’t do the same this season with a Stanley Cup Final-worthy group if McAvoy’s camp plays hardball and holds out ahead of NHL training camp.

All signs point to McAvoy getting a big raise and eventually getting the cap-busting contract that he’s clearly going to be looking for, and he could get it as soon as a year from now at this time. But the 21-year-old needs to earn it first, and shame on Don Sweeney and the Bruins if they shell out tens of millions of dollars on an admittedly talented, highly-gifted player before he’s done the kind of things that earn players that type of money at the NHL level.

Why Heinen signing left B's with cap questions>>>>

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Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruin Ryan Donato re-signs with Minnesota Wild on two-year deal

Ex-Bruins forward Ryan Donato will be staying in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

The 23-year-old, who was traded from the B's to the Wild for Charlie Coyle on Feb. 20, signed a two-year deal worth $3.8 million on Tuesday.

Donato played well after joining the Wild last season, notching 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 22 games. The Scituate native tallied 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 46 total games with Boston over two years.

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