As the Bruins look to improve after missing the playoffs by the narrowest of margins in each of the last 2 seasons, second year GM Don Sweeney looks to have a better offseason than he did last. He's already made a couple of significant moves on the team, by letting Loui Eriksson go to the Vancouver Canucks and then signing 32-year old Blues captain, David Backes to a five-year deal.
Also, in an attempt to have a better year in front of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins bought-out 35-year-old defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and signed 25-year-old Torey Krug to a 4-year deal. Lastly, by the looks of it, Boston will hang on to Zdeno Chara.
However, keeping Zdeno Chara is a move that can play an important role for the Bruins if they play him right.
Unfortunately, since the end of the 2013 season, Chara's production has gone down. Whether that is because of recent knee injuries or not, he isn't the same guy he used to be. In fact, he's not even close.
Chara does get off to very good starts, only to seemingly get tired and slow down as the year progresses. So how does Claude Julien manage Zdeno Chara this upcoming season?
A strategy that has worked to perfection is how Gregg Poppavich has handled the minutes of now-retired first ballot HOFer Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA. That strategy includes limiting his minutes, and even giving him time off in order to extend the hall of famer. And keeping Mr. Fundamental around has really helped the Spurs stay in the hunt for a NBA championship for the last few seasons.
The problem is, Zdeno Chara's contract. Claude Julien is playing Chara the amount of minutes that his contract says he should play, completely oblivious to the fact that Chara is nowhere near the level that his contract would imply.
So putting him on the second or third line with a young defenseman like Colin Miller or Kevan Miller could be beneficial to, not only them, but to the team as well.
Chara is aging, and if he is going to stick around, he has to be managed in a way where he can be successful and stay healthy. Unfortunately, he is the most important man on that defense, which is already subpar, and will continue to be the most important if the B's can't get someone better. If Chara is going well, the Bruins are usually going well. And the only way to keep him going well is to limit his minutes.