BRIGHTON -- The Charlie McAvoy era appears to have begun in Boston.
The 19-year-old Bruins defenseman signed his three-year entry level contract with the Bruins, was assigned No. 73 because his No. 7 was already spoken for by a gentleman named Phil Esposito, and practiced with the NHL club Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Number 73 once belonged to Michael Ryder, and hopefully McAvoy won't inherit Ryder's tendency to disappear on the ice for weeks at a time during the regular.
“Being here and skating with guys that you’ve looked up to all your life is pretty special,” said McAvoy, who was paired with John-Michael Lukes. “If I get a chance to play then I’m going to do what got me here and just to try to play a pretty simple game.
“The organization is going to decide what’s best for me and put me in the best position to succeed. I’m putting all of my trust in that process. It’s the next step and it’s obviously a higher level, but I have a feeling I’m going to be put in the best position to succeed.”
General manager Don Sweeney and interim coach Bruce Cassidy wouldn’t guarantee McAvoy will be in the lineup on Wednesday night for Game 1 in Ottawa, but it certainly feels like he’s in with both Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo “unlikely” to play in the Stanley Cup series opener. They feel McAvoy, one of the organization’s best puck-moving types, can step in and help.
“If that’s the decision [Cassidy] decides to make [with the lineup], we feel comfortable that we’ve seen him play recently and that with his skill set that he’d be able to handle it,” said Sweeney of McAvoy, who had two assists and a plus-3 in four AHL games with the Providence Bruins over the last couple of weeks. “Clearly with the injuries to Krug and Carlo we’ve looked to add to the depth of our group. There were several players in the conversation [about getting called up], but we think Charlie is ready to handle that. So we’ll see.
“[Down in Providence] he did what he does best. He played well moving pucks and getting physical when he was supposed to. He was improving with his structure and playing without the puck, and those were the areas where we wanted him to understand that at the next level it was going to be more difficult. It’s a sharp learning curve, and it’s an even sharper curve that he’ll discover if he gets in Wednesday or Saturday, or whenever that is. But we feel very good about his skill set and what he brings to the table as a kid that seeks out the bigger moments.”
Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings from Monday’s practice:
K. Miller-C. Miller