COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: Charlie McAvoy
Countdown to camp: Charlie McAvoy
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2017-18 Bruins. Today: Charlie McAvoy.
Charlie McAvoy has been ticketed for great things since he was selected in the first round by the Bruins a little more than a year ago and nothing that’s happened since has dissuaded the Bruins from that opinion. The 19-year-old capped off a strong season at Boston University by stepping up and filling in for the B's in their playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. McAvoy is on the path to being a No. 1 defenseman in the NHL in the next couple of seasons based on what he’s done to date, but his rookie season in the NHL could be a bit of a learning experience on the way to ultimately fulfilling his hockey potential.
What Happened Last Year
McAvoy, 19, finished a strong sophomore season with Boston University by posting five goals and 26 points in 38 games and then jumped immediately into a high-impact role at the pro level. McAvoy looked totally comfortable in a handful of late-season games for the Providence Bruins and then jumped in for Boston in the Stanley Cup playoffs without missing a beat. He averaged more than 26 minutes of ice time and posted three assists in his six NHL playoff games. He looked every bit the workhorse No. 1 defenseman he’s expected to grow into the next few years. Certainly, there were times where McAvoy looked a little deferential with the puck and there wasn’t enough of a sample size for him to get really pushed by the league. But those are things that will be taken care of simply by McAvoy getting experience and you can’t teach the skating, passing, shooting and hockey instincts that the youngster brings to the table.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
What doesn’t need to be answered for a 19-year-old expected to be an impact player at the NHL level? Clearly, there is going to be a long learning curve for McAvoy in his first go-round through the league and expectations should be tempered with reality as a result of that. The real question is how good McAvoy can be right off the bat? How much will the Bruins throw at him early in his NHL career without fear that it’s going to be too much? It might be a little early to heap all No. 1 defenseman duties on McAvoy in his first season, but that’s why it’s a good thing that 40 year-old Zdeno Chara is still around as a reliable, accountable and effective pro still capable of that heavy duty on most days. By the end of this season, it will be fun to see exactly where McAvoy is in his NHL development and what that means for the Bruins.
In Their Own Words
“I’m really excited. You get a feel for it and there’s nothing like it. I’m still kind of feeling the [playoff] loss and definitely not over it, wish I was still playing. But like I said there’s so many good things, so many positives that you can take from [his NHL experience]. Being able to come in and build a relationship with the guys on this team was something that’s definitely special, so going into next year I’ll have that good foundation.” –Charlie McAvoy, on Bruins' breakup day last spring.
McAvoy has all the goods to be a star in Boston. He can skate, shoot and pass with a smooth efficiency that every great defenseman has, he can play physical and gritty when it’s called for and he has the kind of charisma that hockey fans in Boston are going to enjoy. All of that is going to work in McAvoy’s favor as a teenager trying to make his way in the NHL. His solid, sturdy build is going to help him handle the physical aspects of the job. The only danger is expecting greatness right off the bat from such a talented player and not giving McAvoy the time he’s going to need to learn, improve and ultimately polish his game in the NHL. The good news is that the Bruins have a talented cast of veteran players around him to give him everything he needs for success. As long as McAvoy can stay healthy, the sky is really the limit for him as the Bruins are sure to give him ample chances to succeed in all situations as one of the future cornerstones of the franchise.