The Boston Bruins still need to re-sign their two big restricted free agents. With it only being the end of July, both parties still seem to have plenty of time to come to an agreement. While the team and players can be patient, fans do tend to be a bit less rational. More so if a potential franchise player is involved. Not trying to disregard Brandon Carlo, but addressing Charlie McAvoy and his future contract will be much more of a priority for the Bruins. McAvoy has developed into an elite player, despite playing in only two seasons, and is undeniably the player of the future in Boston. Yet, updates on his contract have seemed few-and-far-between.
Boston Bruins Charlie McAvoy Contract Situation
Before diving into what kinds of options the Bruins have with the 21-year-old defenceman, it’s important to put his already strong career into perspective. In the 2017 NHL playoffs, the Bruins were dealing with injury issues. Down to the 10th defenceman on the roster’s depth chart, they opted to sign McAvoy to an entry-level contract for the playoff run.
McAvoy’s first taste of the NHL lasted only six games against the Ottawa Senators as the Bruins crashed in the first round. A few months later, Charlie McAvoy appeared in his first NHL regular-season game against the Nashville Predators. He scored a goal that night, the first of seven that season. In the 2017-18 year, he totaled 32 points in 63 games. Yet, he started to show his Achilles heel that year, as he was plagued with injuries. McAvoy has missed a total of 47 games over his first two NHL seasons. Heart issues, knee injury, and a concussion have all kept McAvoy out of the lineup.
In total, the former 14th overall draft choice from the 2016 NHL Draft has played in 117 NHL games so far. He has collected 60 points in total, 32 and 28 in his respective two seasons. He has averaged 22:10 of the ice-time and a 54.5 corsi-for percentage. McAvoy has also taken part in 41 playoff games already in his career, totaling 16 points. These numbers look very impressive for a young blueliner, especially considering his riddled injury history. McAvoy had the most ice-time of all the skaters on the Bruins team during 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs run, further solidifying his role as the team’s star.
McAvoy is one of many restricted free agents still yet to sign. It’s a fairly high-end free-agent-class as well, with star RFA defensemen like Zach Werenski, Ivan Provorov, and Will Butcher all also currently without a contract.
The highly touted RFA defenceman Jacob Trouba signed a seven-year deal with the New York Rangers worth $8 million per season only a few weeks ago. As Joe Haggerty from the NBC Sports Boston reports, Trouba’s deal with the Rangers has to do little with the Bruins negotiations with their restricted free agent. Both Trouba and McAvoy are right-handed blueliners, but as the report states, that’s where the similarities end. Trouba has spent six seasons in the NHL, while McAvoy has been around for only two years.
Yet, the $8 million cap hit may not be too far off of what McAvoy gets. Evolving Hockey projected McAvoy to get a six-year deal with a cap hit of $7,129,068. This seems to be a very realistic number for the star defenceman. If McAvoy did sign for that, the Bruins would need to become very creative to also sign Carlo. As of now, the Bruins have a little over $8 million in cap space. We broke down this tight salary cap already in our previous piece covering the Boston Bruins salary cap issues.
Bridge Deal Option
The most logical solution for the Bruins would be a short-term bridge deal with McAvoy. Haggerty agrees with this in his own breakdown. A deal for two or three years worth $5 or $6 million per year would do the trick, according to the report. Yet, the idea of a long-term deal still seems promising.
McAvoy seems destined to be a number one defenceman in the very near future. The priority for the Bruins is to just lock him up for a contract. If there is a chance to ink McAvoy to a seven-year deal worth, let’s guess, $7.5 million per season, it is well worth it.
Why? Simply because that deal will start to look a lot like a bargain in two or three years. A long-term deal could also help the team save money in the long run. With McAvoy showing so much promise in only two seasons, there’s no telling how good he’ll be in a few years. While a bridge deal would simply carry him through the great seasons ahead, and straight to a much heftier contract, a long term deal could lock-in McAvoy.
Hold Out Concerns
A holdout might have catastrophic consequences for both sides. The Bruins certainly don’t want to start their season without their star defenceman, while McAvoy might can look towards the Toronto Maple Leafs to see how a holdout can backfire. As Matt Porter from the Boston Globe suggested, William Nylander‘s shadow still looms large. Last year, Nylander’s dramatic contract negotiations with the Leafs cost him a good part of the season, something that he regretted in the long run.
Nylander was able to finish the regular season with only 27 points in 54 games as he was under scrutiny from the Maple Leafs fans. Nevertheless, one cannot rule out the slim possibility of McAvoy not suiting up for day one of training camp. Porter further agrees that Trouba’s deal isn’t guidance for the new McAvoy’s signing. He also ponders how Zdeno Chara‘s $7 million deal, received at the age of 29, or Patrice Bergeron‘s $6.875 million contract, would affect McAvoy and his new contract.
Porter doesn’t seem to think a long term deal would be a bad idea at all, adding that the terms the Rangers gave Trouba might be very vital for the Bruins and McAvoy. A long and extensive holdout would not be a smart move by either of the parts involved.
When to Expect Charlie McAvoy Signed
Two years ago the Bruins found themselves in a very similar position. After waiting all summer long, the Bruins finally managed to sign David Pastrnak to a six-year deal worth $6.67 million per season in the last few days of training camp. A few days later, Pastrnak was in the starting lineup versus the Predators.
That’s probably a very solid indicator of when Charlie McAvoy will sign his new contract. It could be just before the regular season starts. The Bruins start their season against the Dallas Stars on October 3. While nothing looks imminent as of now, an encouraging point for the Bruins fans, they shouldn’t wait until the beginning of December when RFAs are required to sign.