Early last summer, I wrote an article speculating whether veteran forward Jason Chimera would be playing his final season with the Caps and in the NHL after a disappointing 19-point season in 2014-15. Now, however, Chimera has proven he still has plenty left in the tank.
Traded to the Capitals on December 28, 2009 by the Columbus Blue Jackets for then-captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina, Chimera has become one of the most-beloved players on the team. In 460 career games in a Washington sweater, “Chimmer” has 186 points (76 goals, 110 assists) and has taken on a bigger role this season, playing on both the penalty kill and power play. He currently has 29 points in 52 games played (14 goals, 15 assists) and is on pace for a career-high 22 goals, 24 assists, and 46 points. But at 36-years old (37 at the end of the season), the question Caps general manager Brian MacLellan needs to ask himself is whether Chimera can continue having productive seasons up until 40-years old.
Chimera has said that he wants to play until he’s 40, which would mean that the Caps would have to give him a three-year contract, something the team might not be comfortable doing. A perfect example is former Capital Joel Ward. Last offseason, Ward (then a free agent) wanted a four-year contract at the age of 34; the Capitals however, were only willing to offer two. Ward ultimately signed a three-year deal with the San Jose Sharks, but if the popular right-wing couldn’t pry even a three-year contract from the Caps at 34-years old, then Chimera would appear to have little chance at the age of 37. With a current cap hit of $2 million, Chimera would likely command at least $3.5 million per year. But Chimera still has the speed that has been a weapon of his for the majority of his career and could still be a reliable penalty killer and power play option.
Chimera’s future in Washington will all depend on how many years the Caps are willing to give him, how much money he’ll demand, and if the Caps have a place for him; the team has promising youngsters like Jakub Vrana and Riley Barber in the AHL that should be able to make an impact in the next few years. Hopefully, Chimmer will be able to finish his NHL career in a Caps sweater.
By Michael Fleetwood