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Countdown to Camp: Charlie McAvoy

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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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NHL rumors: Execs view Bruins, Avalanche as fits for a Joe Thornton trade

NHL rumors: Execs view Bruins, Avalanche as fits for a Joe Thornton trade

Joe Thornton is one of the best players in NHL history who hasn't won a Stanley Cup, but will he choose to chase that elusive ring and ask for a move before Monday's NHL trade deadline?

Thornton has played more than 15 years for the San Jose Sharks after the Boston Bruins traded him to the West Coast during the 2005-06 season. The Sharks have been one of the league's winningest teams during the regular season with Thornton, but playoff success has largely escaped them. They've reached the Stanley Cup Final only once during his tenure in San Jose, and the Sharks lost that series to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games four years ago.

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Thornton is 40 years old and in the final year of his contract. If there was a time to pursue a Stanley Cup title with a contender, it's right now. So, if he does want a trade, which teams make sense for the veteran center? Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun spoke to multiple executives around the league who shared their thoughts on the best fits for Thornton.

He has a full “no move” clause, but the Sharks would like to give him the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. If he’s going to be dealt, then league executives believe he’ll only go to a team that has a chance to win, so the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins are both viewed as good fits.

Thornton coming back to Boston, the place he began his Hall of Fame career, and winning a Stanley Cup with the Bruins would be an amazing story. 

From a hockey fit perspective, Thornton would be a good bottom-six addition for the Bruins, but only if another move for a goal-scorer was made ahead of the deadline. Thornton alone isn't going to make the Bruins a much-improved team. He's no longer an elite offensive player, and he hasn't hit the 20-goal mark since 2010-11. Thornton is still a decent playmaker and effective on the power play, but the Bruins need secondary goal scoring behind the Perfection Line. A player like New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider would best address this concern, and TSN reported Tuesday that the Bruins and Avalanche have emerged as frontrunners for a Kreider trade.

Kreider and Thornton would be a nice haul for the B's and help give them a strong chance to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in the playoffs. All three of these teams have made trades over the last two weeks to bolster their rosters for the postseason.

Being traded to a contender doesn't always work for players in Thornton's position, and Jarome Iginla in 2013 is among the best recent examples. But Thornton absolutely deserves a chance, and the Bruins arguably are best-positioned of any team to win the Stanley Cup this spring.

Top 10 players for teams to target ahead of NHL trade deadline

NHL Rumors: Did Devils GM hint at wanting to acquire a defenseman?

NHL Rumors: Did Devils GM hint at wanting to acquire a defenseman?

The Boston Bruins have been linked to New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri for a while now.

However, the Devils don't appear eager to trade their veteran top scorer at the deadline. Still, if Bruins GM Don Sweeney gives the Devils an offer they can't refuse, then Palmieri very well could suit up on David Krejci's right wing.

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What would it take to land Palmieri? Well, our Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty noted that he could be had for a first-round pick, a young cost-controlled player such as Anders Bjork, and a top-notch prospect. Devils interim GM Tom Fitzgerald had some interesting things to say regarding how his organization would approach the trade deadline.

"We've all underperformed this year. We're in this sell mode right now because of our Octobers, Novembers, Decembers and January. So, there's not one player that feels really good about what the season looks like. Underperforming is really where we're at that drove this situation," Fitzgerald said on SiriusXM's NHL Network. "Certain players, I believe, they will get better. I believe that they can find their games and get it back to where it's normal. We don't need P.K. Subban being a 25-minute-a-night guy. We need to find support for him so he can play at his best -at minutes that will allow him to do what he does well."

Did Fitzgerald just hint at the Devils wanting to acquire a defenseman at the deadline? Maybe. If so, the B's have plenty of defensemen they could send to New Jersey. For example, John Moore, at this point, has been expendable for the Bruins. Prospects such as Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen may be able to improve New Jersey's defensive situation and ease the life of Subban.

While it's just speculation, it would make some sense considering the Devils traded defenseman Andy Greene to the New York Islanders in exchange for a defensive prospect and Blake Coleman to the Tampa Bay Lightning for an offensive prospect and first-round pick over the weekend.

If the Bruins were to land Palmieri, the Devils would acquire some pretty solid assets in return.