Bruins

Countdown to Camp: Charlie McAvoy

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NBC Sports Boston illustration

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 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Charlie McAvoy.

Charlie McAvoy didn’t end up winning the Calder Trophy and probably didn’t have the complete rookie season he envisioned, but the 20-year-old also showed a lot of resiliency and regularly flashed the goods that will make him a future No. 1 defenseman in Boston. It was a year in which a little bit of everything was thrown at him, but it ended on a high note with McAvoy finding his game in the second round against Tampa Bay and playing very well for Team USA at the IIHF World Championships. As with David Pastrnak, the sky is the limit for McAvoy, an ultra-talented player who's going to be a part of the long-term plans in Boston. 

What Happened Last Year: After getting his feet wet in the playoffs two seasons ago, McAvoy was a full time D-man from training camp through the playoffs. The former BU star finished with strong numbers for a rookie defenseman (seven goals, 32 points) despite undergoing an in-season heart procedure and then suffering a late-season knee injury that left a lot of rust on his game when the playoffs began. When heatlhy, McAvoy had some strong and impressive individual performances and worked into a successful top-pairing D-partnership with Zdeno Chara. When the season was over, there was little doubt McAvoy is on track to become the No. 1 defenseman in Boston and will be in Black and Gold for a long, long time.

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The biggest is probably his ability to remain healthy, considering the amount of contact he’ll absorb as a workhorse-type D-man in the NHL. Given his sturdy frame (6-foot, 205 pounds) and his ability, prior to last year, to remain healthy, it’s easy to give McAvoy a pass and assume those were outliers rather than signs to come. Beyond that, the only question for McAvoy is how quickly he'll develop. He’s already shown he can play 25-plus minutes per night and that he can do everything well, so now McAvoy simple needs to beat the sophomore jinx and keep improving after a rock-solid rookie campaign.

In Their Words: “I think I grew mentally from [the adversity]. It’s good sometimes to go through something like that and have that experience. I thought that coming back [from the knee injury] was a little tough, but then I felt like I played my best hockey of the year when it mattered, towards the end, in that last series against Tampa. I thought I gave it everything I had and left it out there in Game 5, and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Like I said, there are some big things that you can pull from, and I’m going to pull from them and, you know, hopefully be a lot better next year for it.” –Charlie McAvoy, on the challenges of his rookie season and how they can make him a better player moving forward.  

Overall Outlook: McAvoy came into his rookie season with a lot of hype after his strong NHL debut during the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, and he largely lived up to it while finishing among the top five for Calder Trophy voting. The challenge is to build on that while more gets thrown on his shoulders by a Bruins team that clearly has big plans for him. It'll be interesting to see what kind of season McAvoy has in 2018-19 with his entry level deal up after this season and a big second contract potentially sitting there. McAvoy has Drew Doughty-type potential at the NHL level, and now it’s just a matter of how quickly he can get there.

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Re-setting the Bruins' blue-line depth

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Re-setting the Bruins' blue-line depth

The Bruins' already-thin blue line depth took another body blow Wednesday when captain Zdeno Chara left the first period of a loss to Colorado with an apparent knee injury. The big man is headed back to Boston for further evaluation, and as Joe Haggerty notes, any extended time away from the team by Chara could be a coup de grace.

How dire could this picture look without Chara? Here's what the defenseman depth looks like at present:

WHO'S OUT

Zdeno Chara - The captain is heading back to Boston after injuring his knee in Wednesday night’s loss in Colorado. It’s unknown how long he’ll be out for, but as Joe Haggerty writes, any long-term absence could be quite costly.

Kevan Miller - On the IR with a hand injury, Miller hasn’t appeared in a game since Oct. 18, but traveled with the team for this road trip. He won’t be eligible to play until Nov. 21 against the Red Wings, however.

Charlie McAvoy - Out since Oct. 18 with a concussion, he’s skating again, but did not travel with the team for this road trip.

Brandon Carlo - He’s out on the IR with an upper body injury, having not played since Saturday’s 5-1 win over Toronto.

Urho Vaakanainen - He didn’t make the trip to Colorado, out with a concussion, but he could join the team before the road trip concludes next week in Detroit.

WHO'S HERE

Matt Grzelcyk - He’s been on the top D-pairing with Chara and is averaging nearly 20 minutes of ice time this season, with 1-7-8 totals in 16 games.

Torey Krug - The left-shooting puck-mover figures to join Grzelcyk on the top pairing. He started the year off on the mend, making his season debut Oct. 30, with six assists in the seven games since.

Steven Kampfer - Sitting on the third D-pairing with call-up Jeremy Lauzon on Wednesday, Kampfer is at a minus-1 for the season.

Jeremy Lauzon - The third-line rookie notched his first career goal in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Vegas.

John Moore - The well-traveled veteran has been logging heavy minutes of late, averaging 20:06 of ice time this month — including a season-high 25:53 in an overtime win over Dallas on Nov. 5. He has just two points in 18 games.

Jakub Zboril - The 21-year-old Czech is understandably thrilled about his first call-up from Providence. In 13 games for the P-Bruins, the former first-round pick has 2-2-4 totals with 16 penalty minutes.

Connor Clifton - The former Quinnipiac star was called up from Providence Thursday on an emergency basis. In 14 AHL games this season, he has four assists.

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Podcast: Mookie Betts wins MVP of the American League

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Podcast: Mookie Betts wins MVP of the American League

1:11 - Mike Felger and Lou Merloni discuss Mookie Betts winning MVP and if JD Martinez should’ve finished higher in the voting.

5:47 - Felger and Merloni are back to debate if the Patriots have enough talent and will be able to keep up the pace with the other high powered teams in the NFL.

10:21 - DJ Bean and Mike Felger talk about the loss of Zdeno Chara after suffering a lower body injury on Wednesday night and debate Tuukka Risk vs. Jaroslav Halak.

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