The Boston Bruins want to keep Charlie McAvoy around for a while. But the young defenseman wants to earn what he believes he's worth.

McAvoy, who will become a restricted free agent this summer after his rookie deal expires, turned down a long-term contract offer from the Bruins last offseason through his agent, Rick Curran, The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa reported Tuesday.

Per Shinzawa, McAvoy's decision not to take Boston's deal was related to defenseman Aaron Ekblad signing a lucrative eight-year extension with the Florida Panthers in 2016 worth $7.5 million annually, making him one of the league's highest-paid defensemen.

The 21-year-old McAvoy has a bright future ahead of him, but the Bruins likely didn't offer him a deal in Ekblad's ballpark; an average salary of $7.5 million would make McAvoy the highest-paid player in Boston, ahead of David Krejci at $7.25 million per year.

McAvoy's numbers are somewhat comparable to Ekblad's, however -- the Bruins defenseman tallied 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists) while playing 22 minutes per game as a 20-year-old rookie last season, while Ekblad netted just 21 points during his age-20 season -- and one anonymous agent told Shinzawa he could make a case for an extension in that range.

"No question,” the agent said. "The Bruins will try to dig in a little bit. They’ll point to his games and they’ll use (David) Pastrnak, who’s a superstar. It’ll be a tough deal to do, a tough deal to evaluate. It may end up that a solution is four years.”

 

Boston's sticking point may be McAvoy's health; he's already missed 27 games this season due to a concussion and a lower-body injury. How far the B's are willing to go to keep their elite young defenseman around should be one of the biggest stories of the summer.

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