WILMINGTON – Charlie McAvoy looked every bit the first round pick as he glided through skating drills in each of the first two sessions at Bruins Development Camp on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena.
The 18-year-old Boston University D-man was trying on his Bruins gear for the first time suiting up with 26 other Bruins prospects for this week’s camp, and he looked excited at the next step in his development toward a bright future as an NHL defenseman.
“Throughout the draft process, you look at a team like the Bruins and you’re like ‘Wow, [the Bruins] could be a really good fit,’” said McAvoy, who had three goals and 25 points in 37 games at Boston University this season as the youngest player in college hockey. “So that’s why it’s exciting, and I was really, really happy to be drafted here. I can really grow in all aspects: primarily on defense, I think, and to continue to grow defensively while getting more mature in my own zone.
“It’s little things too. I’ve got to get stronger and faster, and getting more mature and mentally tough. [These are] things I’m going to need at the next level. I just want to grow this week, and to learn as much as I can. I want to really familiarize myself with the resources here that are all here to support me, and to help me. These are all people I’m going to lean on in my career, so it’s nice to be able to start building a relationship with them this week.”
The Bruins see the same in McAvoy, who looked even bigger and stronger on skates than one might have expected after speaking with him in Buffalo at the NHL Draft a couple of weeks ago.
The skating game has been there from his first days at BU. The passing and hockey IQ are strengths rather than weaknesses. And he has the kind of durable, rugged frame that screams out “hockey body” that can log a lot of minutes and responsibility.
That’s exactly what Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo saw on Tuesday putting him through his first paces as a member of the Black and Gold.
“He’s smooth. I don’t even think he’s 6-foot-1, but he looks like he’s 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 [on the ice] and he’s wide. He can really skate. He’s an effortless skater,” said Pandolfo. “He’s the type of D-man that you hope can play 25-26 minutes a night. That’s what he looks like when you watched him in college last year. He has no problem handling a lot of ice time, so that’s important.
“Sometimes you can tell who the natural leaders on the ice right off the hop, and he was talking a lot. He was helping guys out. For a first year guy to be doing that, you can see he’s a guy that’s going to be a leader moving forward. That was impressive.”
The skill, skating and the solid build along with the physicality component sound an awful lot like the boxes that a guy like Drew Doughty checks off nightly for the Los Angeles Kings, and that’s the kind of guy the Bruins are desperately in need of developing over the next couple of years.
It’s an awfully big pair of skates to fill for a teenager like McAvoy fresh off being selected 14th overall last month, but his development camp debut was a good first stride in the right direction.
Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs