Bruins

Bruce Cassidy paints a picture of what Bruins’ D corps might look like without Zdeno Chara in 2021

(Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Barring a surprise trade — or a dramatic offer-sheet scenario — it would appear as though Don Sweeney and the Bruins are done perusing what has been a stagnant free-agent and trade market this fall.

Of course, there's still plenty of internal moves remaining on Boston's offseason checklist, headlined by the fate of restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk. But on the blue line — which remains B's primary question mark entering the 2021 campaign — the status of Zdeno Chara and whether or not Boston's captain dons a black and gold sweater for a 15th season continues to loom large over a roster suddenly asking a lot out of green group of D-men.

Chara stated his desire to return to Boston shortly after the B's were bounced out of the Toronto bubble, but since then it's primarily been radio silence between all parties. Granted, the veteran defenseman could be waiting until more concrete details are established about what players can expect in a drastically altered 2020-21 season. But there also stands a viable chance that Chara — whether it be via retirement or potentially free agency — is no longer anchoring Boston's D corps this winter.

As hard as it might be to envision a Bruins club without the future Hall of Famer patrolling the blue line, it is a scenario that Bruce Cassidy has accepted that could become reality in 2021. And with a tentative starting date of Jan. 1 still circled by the league as the start of this new season, the work is already underway in terms of assembling a reshuffling D corps if Chara does indeed depart.