Zdeno Chara will be trading the black and gold for Capitals red in 2021 and make no mistake, you're going to see him on the ice. It's not just because he is hard to miss at 6-foot-9, it's because there is no question he came to Washington to play and not to be parked on the taxi squad.
Chara averaged 21:01 of ice time in 68 games for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston Bruins. His addition will add leadership and toughness to the Caps without question.
But he's also 43 and will turn 44 in March.
Considering Chara's age and that the team already has Brenden Dillon, Dmitry Orlov and Jonas Siegenthaler on the left, it is fair to wonder if Chara's addition is more about what he can provide in the locker room than on the ice. Given the team's depth, perhaps this is more of an addition for the taxi squad than it is for the roster.
That could be possible if not for the number of teams that were interested in Chara.
If 20 teams were interested in Chara, general manager Brian MacLellan did not convince him to sign in Washington by offering him $795,000 and a spot on the taxi squad. He's going to play.
While it is true that you can never have enough leadership in a locker room, you can have too many defensemen. WIth Chara in the fold, that probably pushes Siegenthaler out of the lineup. It also means Martin Fehervary won't play at all unless Washington's depth is severely tested.
Here is a projected depth chart for the Caps' defense:
Brenden Dillon - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Justin Schultz
Zdeno Chara - Nick Jensen
Jonas Siegenthaler - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Martin Fehervary - Paul LaDue
Considering we could see more wear and tear in a condensed season and the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak hitting the locker room will loom throughout the season, perhaps MacLellan is banking on the fact that the defensive depth will be deeply tested. If this does happen, the Caps certainly have the depth to try to withstand such trials. If things don't go wrong, however, Chara could be splitting time with a 23-year-old defenseman who led the team in shorthanded ice time last season.
No one is questioning what Chara will bring to the locker room, but is he good enough to still have a regular spot in the lineup even if it comes at the expense of Siegenthaler? That's a tougher question to answer.