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The Blackhawks Better Avoid Downgrading to Zdeno Chara

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Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Although Zdeno Chara has built up an impressive resume, the Chicago Blackhawks would be wise to avoid expecting that he’ll add to those accolades in their uniform.

With the Chicago Blackhawks out of the playoffs, they’re likely working to see what moves can be made to prepare them for next season. Now that the Boston Bruins have joined them, Zdeno Chara has become a topic of discussion.

Chara has just concluded the last year on his current deal with the Bruins, which saw the captain earn an AAV of $2,000,000. He’s been vocal about not yet knowing what his future in this league entails.

An alternate take asks Bowman to consider Chara as a viable option, if he can be signed for a minimum term and an affordable price tag that makes sense for the Blackhawks.

However, I’m here to dispel that narrative. Chicago had the youngest average age throughout the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. They need to hone in on the potential advantage that brings, as opposed to ageing their roster further.

This is a team that finally seems to have found a much-needed rhythm that they’d lacked the past few years. The latter part of 2019-20, especially battling into a playoff position, gives the whole lineup a lift heading into next season.

Besides, the Blackhawks have their own veteran defenseman with unparalleled accomplishments and who fulfills a necessary leadership role throughout the locker room. Contracted for three more seasons, Duncan Keith is an upgrade that’s already there.

Since 2015-16, 43-year-old Chara’s numbers have continued to decline across almost all important categories. Within that same span, 37-year-old Keith’s have remained much more consistent.

Zdeno Chara: 2015-Present

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table

Not only does Keith still produce at a higher pace than Chara, he also spends more time on the ice and blocks more shots. As they both play through the latter portion of their careers, Keith simply manages the role more effectively.

Duncan Keith: 2015-Present

Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table

Chara is currently six years older than Keith, who happens to be the Blackhawks’ oldest player. Although age isn’t the only factor to consider, when it aligns with a decrease in play then it’s hard to ignore.

Chicago has a positive push into the start of the 2020-21 season, having concluded with feats that were unlikely and unexpected to end 2019-20. Their youth began to take on more impactful roles as the veterans continued to lead the way.

This group has now found a cohesion that could propel them back towards being a competitive organization. The only elements that should be added are those that would enhance their current mix.

Youth, speed, endurance, skill, and adaptability are traits that any team would welcome. Chicago needs to focus on those attributes, as opposed to taking a gamble on a contract that would cost them financially and competitively.

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Chicago needs to avoid even considering signing Chara, regardless of the term or commitment. Although he deserves respect for his Hall of Fame-worthy career, it would seem unlikely that he’ll continue to accomplish in ways that would benefit the Blackhawks.

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