Bruins

Charlie McAvoy contract continues a long pattern of Bruins players keeping their eyes on the prize

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Charlie McAvoy contract continues a long pattern of Bruins players keeping their eyes on the prize

BRIGHTON – In the end, Charlie McAvoy did what pretty much all of the key players on the Bruins have done over the last handful of seasons.

The 21-year-old McAvoy took less than he probably wanted to on the eventual three-year, $14.7 million contract to get into training camp during the opening weekend of on-ice workouts, and now he’s back with his Bruins teammates getting ready for the season without a protracted absence. Make no mistake that some of it was about McAvoy’s 10.2 (c) classification as a restricted free agent where he A) couldn’t be offer-sheeted by other teams, B) wasn’t eligible for salary arbitration and C) is still five years away from unrestricted NHL free agency.

Truth be told, McAvoy had zero leverage in negotiations aside from simply sitting out as he’d done the first couple of days.

But it was also about following the lead of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, who all left money on the table to sign with the Bruins and create an environment where the salary cap will allow them to sustain a winning hockey club. As it is right now, the Bruins don’t expect to need to trade anybody significant off their NHL roster due to salary cap constraints after getting both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo signed.

That’s because McAvoy is now taking up a reasonable $4.9 million cap hit while Bergeron ($6.875 million), Marchand ($6.125 million) and Pastrnak ($6.66 million) are all under $7 million with their cap hits. Compare that to the Chicago Blackhawks, for instance, where Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are over $10 million for their cap hits, and now the Blackhawks can’t build a winning team around them due in part to salary cap issues.

It’s going to be very tough for Kyle Dubas to keep the Leafs together as a sustained winner in Toronto with Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares now all holding cap hits over $10 million per season as well. Think about the astronomical amounts the Leafs are paying that trio while continually losing to a Bruins team whose best players have always kept the eye on the prize in contract negotiations with Don Sweeney.

Now, one can count McAvoy among that group for getting into camp and saving his payday for three years down the line when David Backes, David Krejci, Zdeno Chara and others will be off the books for the Black and Gold.

“I think what we have here is special, there’s no doubt about it. There’s no place I’d rather be. To be a part of such an unbelievable group of men, from staff to everybody involved, it’s just a blast to come to the rink every day,” said McAvoy. “It truly is something special, I feel fortunate and blessed to be a part of it. I think that it’s something where we all want to be competitive and we all want to win.

“We were really close to getting that done last year. We all have the same goal this year, and I think that making sure we’re competitive, I think that takes precedent and doing what you need to do to be a competitive team. I think that’s most important to everybody.”

The other part of the equation for McAvoy and the Bruins is becoming the dominant No. 1 defenseman that can earn the long term, massive money deal that he was undoubtedly seeking if the negotiations had turned his way. Part of that will be the good fortune of staying healthy, part of it is developing into more of a young leader on the team and part of it is simply putting together some dominant seasons after averaging seven goals and 30 points over his first two NHL seasons.

McAvoy has the size, strength, offensive skill and temperament to be the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara, and that’s exactly what he wants to do over the next three seasons.

“I always strive to become better, to grow in all aspects, to reach my full potential. This is an opportunity for me to grow into the player that I’ve become. Obviously, I’ve had a little bit of bad luck as far as injuries go, and little stuff like that. Some things are out of your control, you know?” said McAvoy. “But I’ve always been fortunate to have this support of the organization through all that, which means a whole lot to me. My goal is to go out and become the best hockey player I can be, to grow into one of the best defenseman, hopefully in the league. I feel like the sky is the limit.”

The Bruins obviously do as well. That’s why they’re paying him a base salary of $7.3 million in the final year of the three-year contract, which will be the starting point for his next deal three years from now when the Bruins should have ample room to pay him given some of the big-money deals that will come off the books between now and then.

“[We were looking] to find a common ground that everybody seeks to finalize a deal that puts Charlie in a situation where he can take this platform and really launch himself into the player we all believe he is, and will become both on and off the ice, incorporating leadership qualities he exhibits as well,” said Sweeney. “For us, it’s just a good compromise, a middle ground, it allows him to take it wherever he’s capable of taking it. And we’ll be there when he does.”

That was the feeling around the McAvoy signing with the Bruins given the term, the money involved and the commitment the player has now made to keeping the winning thing going in Boston. It’s just the middle chapter of the McAvoy/Bruins story and the next few years should be among the best for both the blossoming player and his hockey club.

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Talking Points: Patrice Bergeron the only bright spot in brutal Bruins loss

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Talking Points: Patrice Bergeron the only bright spot in brutal Bruins loss

GOLD STAR: Anthony Duclair toiled with the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets after some solid initial success in the desert with a 20-goal season on his resume, but it feels like the 24-year-old is enjoying a second life with the Ottawa Senators.

Duclair finished with a pair of goals and three points against the Bruins on Monday night and was making things happen pretty much every time he was on the ice. Duclair finished with two goals, three points, a plus-3 rating, six shots on net and five giveaways in his 16-plus minutes of ice time. Duclair’s first goal of the night gave the Senators a 2-0 lead and essentially put the Bruins deep in the hole before he iced things at the very end with an empty netter.

BLACK EYE: Torey Krug finished a minus-3 with just a single shot on net, and it could have been even worse if he hadn’t jumped off the ice just before Ottawa scored the first goal of the game in the first period. As it was, Krug had five shot attempts that were either blocked or missed their target and didn’t have enough offensively to help push along the Bruins power play when they really needed to do their damage.

Later on in the game Krug had some defensive issues as well and was among a number of Bruins players that finished with some pretty rough plus/minus numbers including Jake DeBrusk (minus-4), David Krejci (minus-3) and Brett Ritchie (minus-2).

TURNING POINT: The Bruins got a goal from Patrice Bergeron toward the end of the first period to halve Ottawa’s lead and went into the first intermission with a decent chance at winning the game. But then the Bruins came out and gave up a goal in the first two minutes of the second period and essentially let things slip through their fingers at that point. It was a botched play from Tuukka Rask, who attempted to play a puck behind the Boston net and just threw the puck to Vladislav Namestnikov, who set up Chris Tierney for the eventual game-winning goal.

It typified the gift goals that the Bruins gave them on the evening and made it clear it wasn’t going to be their night.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron missed the previous seven games with a lower-body injury and returned to be one of the best players on the ice for either team. Certainly, he was the best player on the ice for the Bruins after scoring a first period goal that got the Bruins in the game.

Bergeron finished with six shots on net, 10 shot attempts and 16-of-25 face-off wins to go along with a blocked shot in 21:43 of ice time. It would appear that Bergeron didn’t have any ill effects from the injury and was fully ready to take on a regular, intense workload after coming back from the injury. The only good news of the night was how good Bergeron looked in his return from injury.

BY THE NUMBERS: 38 – the number of saves for Anders Nilsson, who was a massive factor for the Senators shutting down the Boston power play when it really mattered and holding the Bruins to just two goals on 40 shots.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He’s a true hero...he inspired us all with everything he did...we're going to miss him dearly." –Torey Krug to reporters on the passing of Bruins fan and ALS awareness advocate Pete Frates, who courageously inspired so many during his fight with ALS before succumbing to it this week.

HAGGERTY: Is complacency the only thing that can derail Bruins?>>>

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NHL Highlights: Bruins suffer second straight regulation loss vs. lowly Senators

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NHL Highlights: Bruins suffer second straight regulation loss vs. lowly Senators

FINAL SCORE: Senators 5, Bruins 2

IN BRIEF: The Bruins put forth a subpar effort against the Senators, sleepwalking through most of the game en route to a second straight loss. The silver lining for the team was that Patrice Bergeron scored in his first game back after missing seven straight games with an injury.

BOX SCORE

BRUINS RECORD: 20-5-6 (46 points)

HIGHLIGHTS

ANISIMOV OPENS THE OTTAWA SCORING QUICKLY

B'S ALLOW EASY GOAL TO ANTHONY DUCLAIR

BERGERON CUTS THE LEAD IN HALF OFF FEED FROM PASTRNAK

BRUINS ALLOW ANOTHER MIND-BOGGLING GOAL

PAGEAU'S EMPTY-NET GOAL PUTS THINGS SEEMINGLY OUT OF REACH

JAKE DEBRUSK'S LATE GOAL

UP NEXT:
@ Washington Capitals, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Network

HAGGERTY: Is complacency the only thing that can derail Bruins?>>>

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