Zdeno Chara is going back to where his NHL career started.
The New York Islanders announced on Saturday morning that they have signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“It’s kind of full circle,” Chara said on Saturday. “Who would know that this would work out with the way it did after 20-some years. I’m very honored and humbled to be an Islander again.”
Chara, 44, began his career on Long Island back in 1997 and spent four years with the team before he was traded to the Ottawa Senators in the Alexei Yashin trade. Since then he blossomed into one of the most dominant defenders in the league and put together a Hall of Fame career with Ottawa and Boston. He also spent the 2020-21 season as a member of the Washington Capitals.
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He joins an Islanders team that has been in the semifinals/Eastern Conference Final round in back to back years and is looking to get over that hump and get back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since the early 1980s.
Chara is no longer a player that you are going to rely for 25 minutes a game, but the Islanders do not really need him to be that. With Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock they already have their shutdown, top-pairing and are mainly just looking for depth to round out the defense. Chara should be able to provide that.
“I love the game,” Chara said. “I have passion for the game and believe I can still play. Those are the things that you need. I don’t think you need to say much besides having love for the game and having passion and wanting to win.”
Along with Chara, the Islanders have also added Zach Parise and Richard Panik to the roster this offseason.