What was once a competitive-looking training camp for Bruins defensemen now becomes a lot less uncertain after the last 48 hours.
Both Charlie McAvoy (three years at $4.9 million per season) and Brandon Carlo (two years at $2.85 million per season) are now signed for the next few years with the Bruins still shimmying under the salary cap ceiling.
While some may see Carlo’s deal as a big-time bargain, the comparable contracts to him (Darnell Nurse at $3.2 million per season and Josh Morrissey at $3.15 million per season both on two-year deals) made this two-year deal a fait accompli once the Bruins had something in place with the 21-year-old McAvoy.
On its face, this means that Don Sweeney has managed to do what many thought would be much more difficult this summer: Fitting Carlo and McAvoy under the cap without moving any big contracts to make room for all the returning players. It also means the Bruins can move on to negotiations with Torey Krug, who will be looking for a substantial raise from the final year of a deal that’s paying him $5.25 million per season.
From a practical standpoint on the ice, the Bruins now have a deep, multi-faceted defensemen corps that doesn’t leave any room on the NHL roster for youngsters like Jakub Zboril or Urho Vaakanainen, or potential veteran tryout campers like Florida’s Alex Petrovic. Most teams would be in a tough spot with veteran D-men like Kevan Miller (fractured kneecap) and John Moore (shoulder surgery) out for at least the first month of the season, but the Bruins will be coming back with the entire group that was playing as they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Here’s how the pairings are likely to look to start the season:
Certainly it would appear that Steve Kampfer is the only player with competition for the seventh D-men spot to start the season. Otherwise, the writing is on the wall with camp only a couple of days old and any possible drama erased with both McAvoy and Carlo inking new deals over the last few days.
The only point of interest at this point for Boston’s back-enders? It remains to be seen just how good McAvoy and Carlo can be over the next couple of seasons after signing fair, market contracts that may be less than many expected.
If McAvoy turns into the No. 1 defenseman he’s tracking toward and Carlo can build some offense to go with his shutdown skills, the Bruins are going to be paying much, much more for these players the next time at the negotiating table. But then again many of the current high-priced Bruins players will be off the roster at that point, and the Bruins will gladly pay for younger players that outperform their shiny, brand new deals.
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