The year 2020 gave us one last surprise and it's a big one. Literally. Defenseman Zdeno Chara has signed a one-year, $795,000 deal with the Capitals, the team announced Wednesday.
“We are extremely pleased to have Zdeno join the Capitals organization,” said general manager Brian MacLellan in a press release. “We feel his experience and leadership will strengthen our blueline and our team.”
Chara has been with the Boston Bruins since 2006 where he was immediately named the captain. The 6-foot-9 defenseman is a seven-time all-star and won the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman in 2009. He also helped lead the Bruins to the Cup in 2011.
Chara has been with the Bruins so long it is hard to picture him in another jersey, but Chara confirmed that he would be moving on from Boston on Wednesday via Instagram.
It is a surprise to see Chara in Washington considering he is 43 and will turn 44 in March. The Caps are also a team that looked set in terms of their defensive depth with Brenden Dillon, Dmitry Orlov and Jonas Siegenthaler on the left, plus prospects Martin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev who are also left defensemen.
Chara did provide 21:01 of ice time in 68 games for the Presidents' Trophy winning-Bruins last season, but it is hard to see exactly where he would fit in on Washington's blue line. He certainly brings veteran leadership, but a team that looked like it needed to get younger at the end of the 2020 postseason just got significantly older.
The low price tag should allow Washington to fit Chara under the cap, though Pierre LeBrun reports it includes bonuses that could make it potentially worth more. The Caps now have eight NHL defensemen under contract, not including Michal Kempny who will go on long-term injured reserve or Paul LaDue who was also signed in the offseason. Some shuffling of the blue line between the roster and the taxi squad seems likely.