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Zdeno Chara Returns to the New York Islanders

Did you know the legendary Wayne Gretzky scored the final goal of his NHL career for the New York Rangers in a game against the New York Islanders who also had a legendary player on the ice as well? That’s right Zdeno Chara was on the ice for Gretzky’s last goal in the league. That was way back in 1999. Jump forward to the present day and Zdeno Chara will once again be dining the blue and orange as he signed a one-year contract with the club on September 18th, 2021.  

New York Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello continues to assemble what looks like a 2014-2015 dream team as he adds yet another veteran on the back half of their careers. Despite the age of all the players being brought in the Islanders hope all the leadership experience will rub off on players such as Mat Barzal to ensure a successful franchise now and in the future.

Zdeno Chara Career Overview

Before Zdeno Chara became a Stanley Cup champion, Norris Trophy winner, and Mark Messier Leadership Award recipient with the Boston Bruins his career started nearly 15 years earlier with the New York Islanders. Originally being drafted by the Islanders with the 56th pick of the 1996 NHL draft, Chara didn’t play his first game until the 1997-98 season. Playing in 25 games he only registered one assist; not the best start for the future Hall of Famer to be. Chara went on to play three more seasons for the Islanders producing six goals and 23 assists in 231 games. 

Following the 2000-2001 season Chara and the draft pick that would eventually become Jason Spezza were dealt to the Ottawa Senators for Alexei Yashin. Yashin wouldn’t quite work out for the Islanders as well as Chara and Spezza worked out for the Senators. Spezza would go on to have his own excellent career with Ottawa but Chara did not last as long in Canada’s capital. He played 299 games over the course of four seasons for the Senators logging 51 goals and 95 assists for 146 points. Along with producing points at a decent rate, he also has played some lockdown defense that helped him earn him a couple of big contracts with the Boston Bruins.

With the Bruins, Chara had a hall of fame over the course of 14 years with the club. He routinely was the Bruins" number one defenseman that was tasked with shutting down the opponent’s best players. During the 2008-2009 season, his efforts were recognized as he was named the James Norris Trophy winner as the best defenseman in the NHL. In the 2010-2011 season, Chara had two major achievements added to his resume. His leadership was recognized as he was named the recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award. The Bruins captain also helped his team defeat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to become the Stanley Cup Champions.  Over the course of the 14 seasons, Chara spent playing for the Bruins he played 1023 regular-season games and scored 148 goals and 333 assists. 

At the conclusion of the 2019-2020 season, the 42-year-old Chara and the Bruins decided to part ways and Chara would go on to sign with the Washington Capitals. In 55 games with the Capitals last season, Chara scored two goals and eight assists in a sheltered role. 

How Does Zdeno Chara Fit Into the Islanders Lineup?

Now at 44 years old, the native of Czechoslovakia is not the dominant shutdown defensemen he once was with the Boston Bruins but he proved just last season that he can still be a contributor to a winning team. Chara will again play sheltered minutes most likely on the third defensive pairing for the Islanders. Daileyfaceoff.com currently has him slotted in on the third pairing alongside Scott Mayfield. This combination will hopefully be a reliable one for Barry Trotz and the Islanders over the course of the 2021-22 season.

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