I joked about it a couple of weeks ago, but it is actually happening now: The New York Islanders have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Zdeno Chara, more than 20 years after trading him in the Alexei Yashin deal. Kevin Weekes, his former teammate with the Islanders, broke the story on Twitter about 15 minutes before the team announced it.
#Isles Transaction: The team has agreed to terms with defenseman Zdeno Chara on a one-year contract.https://t.co/RrJtVWH8RQ— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 18, 2021
The move comes not long after Chris Johnston reported that the Islanders planned to bring Erik Gustafsson to camp on PTO as a potential solution to fill the void left at LD2 by Nick Leddy’s trade to the Detroit Red Wings. Gustafsson has a 60-point year from the back end under his belt, but his defense leaves a lot to be desired.
Chara, on the other hand, still seems to have some of his game left, at least from a defensive standpoint. As Shayna Goldman notes, playing in Barry Trotz’s system should suit him well.
Chara returns to the team that drafted him, 20 (!) years after leaving the Islanders. He should still be fine defensively in a Trotz-system. https://t.co/BjccqjafMH pic.twitter.com/vQFlwDRVTD— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) September 18, 2021
I do not know if penciling in 44-year-old Chara, or soon-to-be 39-year-old Andy Greene for that matter, next to Scott Mayfield for second-pair minutes seems like the best solution. The Islanders, already one of the oldest teams in the league, surely now have cemented themselves as the oldest team in the league. But Chara can still play, and he will certainly provide a ton of insight to someone like Noah Dobson.
I am curious to see how the defense shakes out—perhaps the plan is to split the always-dominant Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock pairing, or else give them a lot more ice time than they currently get.
In the meantime, though, just enjoy GM Lou Lamoriello, in one summer, undoing some of the bad things that Mike Milbury did to this organization. Chara definitely seems to be enjoying it.
From Zdeno Chara’s Instagram #Isles pic.twitter.com/O7inQOXO9F— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) September 18, 2021