The last time that the Blues saw Zdeno Chara, it was game seven of the Stanley Cup final, and the then-42 year old was playing through a broken jaw injury and a fishbowl of a facial protector.
Since then, covid’s shortened two seasons and made travel between the two conferences impossible, so Blues fans didn’t get an opportunity to see Chara lumber around on the ice as a member of the Washington Capitals last year. Chara spent 14 seasons with the Bruins; the sight of him in a Caps jersey was jarring.
You know what would be more jarring? The sight of him in a Blues jersey.
According to Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic (subscription required), the Blues have expressed some interest in adding Chara to their blueline. After an off-season of retooling up front, Doug Armstrong appears to have shifted his attention to the defensemen. After losing Vince Dunn in the Kraken’s expansion draft, the Blues defense isn’t bad - but judging from their rough GA/G last season (2.98) there is room for improvement.
This is how the defense stands as far as the top six:
Krug - Parayko
Scandella - Faulk
Mikkola/Walman - Bortuzzo
By putting feelers out for Chara, Armstrong is signaling that he’s concerned about the team’s play in their own zone more so than a lack of defensive prowess. Chara scored two goals last season and added 8 assists in 55 games played. He also finished the season +5, which is his lowest +/- since 2014-2015, where he finished even. The last time that he had a negative season (and I know, +/- is imperfect) was in 2006-2007. In his career, which has spanned 23 seasons, he’s only finished in negative territory four times.
If this wasn’t 44 year old Chara, Armstrong could pull the trigger and make some Blues fans happy. Even as it stands, 44 year old Big Z is still an effective NHL defenseman, but as it is right now, he’s not the defenseman that the Blues need.
Nor will get.
Shortly after Rutherford’s discussion of Chara, Andy Strickland tweeted that St. Louis wouldn’t “be an option” for the former Capital. Why not? It’s just basic geography. It’s nothing against the Blues as an organization, it’s just that if Chara continues his career - he’s still undecided on retirement - he wants to stay as close to Boston and his family as he can stay.
If the Blues want to upgrade their defense (unless they consider a healthy Colton Parayko “like making a trade”), it seems like Chara is out of the running, and that’s probably for the best. As great as he was in his prime - and he is still a solid bet for a team on defense), his age doesn’t seem to fit the direction that the Blues need to go.