Bruins sign captain Zdeno Chara to a seven-year extension


zdenochara3.jpgIt turns out that the Bruins trip to Europe has been good for business. After locking up Patrice Bergeron for three more years with a contract extension, the Bruins announced today that they have extended the contract of captain Zdeno Chara as well according to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.

This was a homecoming for Zdeno Chara. Turns out, it was a very lucrative return to the city where Big Z really got his hockey career started as a teenager, playing for Sparta Praha in the spring of ’96.

Chara, the 33-year-old Bruins’ captain, in the next few hours will finalize a long-term contract extension with the Bruins, one that is believed to expire on or about his 40th birthday.

Contract terms have not been released by the Bruins, but based on a conversation just minutes ago with his Wellesley-based agent, Matt Keator, Chara today will ink a six- or seven-year deal that probably will bring him slightly less than his existing deal, which this season will pay him $7.5 million.

As it turns out, the details of the contract are for seven years at $45.5 million. With extensions for both Chara and Bergeron worked out the effect is two-fold as it removes that potential distraction later in the year when both of their current deals would be winding down and it eliminates the possibility of the Bruins losing either or both of them in the off-season.

Thanks to the new Kovalchuk rule regarding contracts, Chara’s cap hit is a little different as ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun tweets.

The cap hit on Chara will be $6.917M in the first six years of the deal
and $4 million in final season. New Kovalchuk rule applies.

This also puts the Bruins in a position of knowing exactly where they’ll stand in regard to adding players next season. Their other soon-to-be unrestricted free agents in Michael Ryder, Mark Stuart, and Marco Sturm don’t seem like likely candidates to be brought back in the future, but at the very least the Bruins know how much money they’ll have to deal with them and others in the off-season.

For the Bruins, locking up two of their key players, especially Chara, is important because they’re guys that have served the organization well and to get the business side of hockey cleared before the Bruins take the ice today in Prague against the Coyotes makes a ton of sense. Of course, we’ll see how good Chara’s contract looks in the last year or two when he’s 39 and 40 years-old. At least they avoided having it be a 35+ contract like what they’ve got with goalie Tim Thomas.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.