Updates on the Bruins need to improve their defense, while the Kings and Anze Kopitar could be getting closer to a new contract 

Latest on the Bruins.

At some point, the Bruins must find a suitable replacement for Zdeno Chara as their top defenseman.

At some point, the Bruins must find a suitable replacement for Zdeno Chara as their top defenseman.

CSNNE.COM: Joe Haggerty believes Zdeno Chara’s decline means the time could be fast approaching when the Boston Bruins “move on” from their long-time captain as their top defenseman, which could be fast-tracked if their season remains as disastrous as their opening week.

TSN (via TODAY’S SLAPSHOT): Darren Dreger recently reported speaking to his sources with the Bruins organization following rumors out of Boston earlier this week claiming the club was gauging Chara’s trade value, claiming there’s no truth to those reports.

Meanwhile, Scott Cullen noted the difficulty the Bruins would have moving Chara’s contract right now. However, if the Bruins decide to trade their captain, Cullen lists the Colorado Avalanche, Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Edmonton Oilers as possible destinations.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins did have an heir apparent for Chara in Dougie Hamilton, but they traded him away this summer amid rumors he was unhappy in Boston and trying to price himself out of the market. Whatever the reason, I still consider the Hamilton trade a disastrous move by the Bruins, shipping out a blueliner with great potential for a return of draft picks that do nothing to address their need for a top-caliber defenseman. Chara’s still a terrific player, but he turns 39 in March and has clearly lost a step. His best years are behind him.

If the Bruins want to trade Chara, however, his no-movement clause is a big stumbling block, as it significantly limits potential destinations. Even if he agreed to go anywhere, his contract (over $6.9 million annually through 2017-18) is as much a hindrance as his movement clause. The Penguins and Blue Jackets simply cannot afford to take on his contract without dumping a lot of salary first. The Avs, Senators and Islanders will want the Bruins to pick up a big part of Chara’s cap hit. Given the bad blood between the Bruins and former GM Peter Chiarelli, I doubt there’s a deal to be made sending Chara to the Oilers, provided he’s willing to accept a trade there. 

Kings inching closer to a new contract for Kopitar.

TSN: Darren Dreger reports the Los Angeles Kings are inching closer in contract negotiations with center Anze Kopitar. While they’re not close enough yet to claim a deal is imminent, Dreger says it will be eight years in length. Considering the rough year the Kings have had, they need some positive news. A new contract for Kopitar will help.

SPECTOR’S NOTE:  Since his sophomore season in 2007-08, Kopitar’s consistently been the Kings’ leading scorer and top forward. He’s been a finalist for the Selke and Lady Byng trophies, and was their leading playoff scorer during their two championship runs. Eight years is the league maximum for re-signing a player, and I’m guessing he gets around $10 million annually.