The Boston Bruins have locked up one of their most important players, defenseman Charlie McAvoy, for eight more years.
The team announced Friday it has signed McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million contract extension with a $9.5 million salary cap hit, making it the richest deal in Bruins history in terms of annual average value and total salary. TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported the deal includes $26.5 million in signing bonuses.
This contract was a no-brainer move for the Bruins. Yes, the salary is high -- McAvoy's AAV is almost $3 million above Patrice Bergeron's $6.875 million for the highest on the team -- but this is the going rate for defensemen of McAvoy's age and talent.
Here's a look at the recent long-term deals given to comparable blueliners 24 years old or younger (McAvoy is 23):
- Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets: 6 years, $9.583 million AAV
- Cale Makar, Avalanche: 6 years, $9 million AAV
- Miro Heiskanen, Stars: 8 years, $8.45 million AAV
McAvoy is better than the above players with the potential exception of Makar. But unlike Makar's extension, McAvoy's deal covers his entire prime. McAvoy will be 32 when this extension expires. Makar will be 28 when his concludes, which will force the Avalanche to give him another massive contract to secure the rest of his prime.
Here's where McAvoy's deal ranks among the highest-paid defensemen in 2022-23 when this extension kicks in (per CapFriendly):
- Erik Karlsson, Sharks, $11.5 million AAV
- Drew Doughty, Kings, $11 million AAV
- Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets, $9.583 million AAV
- Charlie McAvoy, Bruins, $9.5 million AAV
- Seth Jones, Blackhawks, $9.5 million AAV
From a pure numbers standpoint, McAvoy is well worth the money. He placed fifth in Norris Trophy voting last season for a reason.
His 5-on-5 stats are elite, as explained in the chart below. The Bruins drive puck possession and scoring chances at a very high rate when McAvoy is on the ice during 5-on-5 action. He ranks in the top percentiles among defensemen at even-strength offense and defense, as well as penalty killing.
Sure, some of his scoring numbers are not off the charts. His career high in points is 32, which he set in 2017-18 and 2019-20. The reason for those lower totals is mostly a lack of power-play production. McAvoy's career-high for power-play points in a single season is just eight, which he set last season. McAvoy will play a larger role on the power play going forward -- likely on the PP1 unit this season -- and that will increase his scoring numbers.
The biggest reason why the Bruins benefit from this deal is they've locked up a top-five defenseman for nearly a decade. McAvoy is still signed for one more year under his current contract. So that's nine more years of McAvoy filling the No. 1 defenseman role for the Bruins.
If you look at all of the great Bruins teams, they are built around generational defensemen. Guys like Bobby Orr, Brad Park, Ray Bourque and Zdeno Chara. Of course, McAvoy has a ways to go before reaching a Hall of Fame level, but he's definitely trending in that direction.
Defensemen of McAvoy's caliber also are among the most common denominators of Stanley Cup-winning teams. Look at the last 10 champions, their blue line featured elite defensemen such as Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Kris Letang, Alex Pietrangelo, Victor Hedman, Chara, etc. McAvoy has the potential/talent to be that kind of cornerstone for a championship squad.
A stud, No. 1 defenseman might be the toughest player to find, and that's why they don't often reach unrestricted free agency and rarely are traded. The Bruins hit a home run getting McAvoy with the No. 14 pick in the 2016 draft, and they will enjoy the benefits of that selection for almost another decade with his new extension.