Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy wants to be part of the ‘City Of Champions’ and in signing a three-year, $14.7 million contract Sunday, the 21-year-old backed up his words he said following the Bruins’ heartbreaking loss to the St. Louis Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.
“I don’t want to go anywhere. [Boston] is the best place on earth,” McAvoy said at the time. “This is home for me now. I live here in the summer. I love it here. I want to be here forever. I think losing in the manner that we did, I want to just win so bad, to just be a part of it, just to join – just a city full of champions and everyone here is winners and they all won at one point and I just want to be a part of that so freaking bad. We just have to believe that we’ll be back.”
NHL sources close to the negotiations between McAvoy and the Bruins have confirmed to Boston Hockey Now that the main reason McAvoy signed what amounted to a bridge deal with the team Sunday morning is not simply because McAvoy had hardly any rights as a 10.2(c) restricted free agent, but because he believes this current Bruins roster has a legit chance to finish what they started last year and win the Stanley Cup this season and for many to come. Even as recently as Friday, McAvoy and his camp were still pushing for a long-term contract, but he didn’t see the point in dragging things out and hurting his team’s chances of competing for a Stanley Cup.
“He didn’t have that much leverage but he could’ve still made a stance and sat out to get more term and maybe more money too,” one source said Sunday afternoon. “He knows the predicament the team was in cap-wise and it’s clear this kid just wants to win.”
A week ago, Bruins veteran defenseman Torey Krug offered to take less money to remain a Bruin past next July 1 when he can become an unrestricted free agent. When appraised of that, McAvoy – who had been pushing for a longer-term and value with his contract – was cognizant of players deserving and rightfully so, pushing for market value. However, he also acknowledged that in the Bruins dressing room, winning is an equally major factor.
“I didn’t actually see that, but I know that that’s something that resonates with a lot of guys,” McAvoy said of Krug’s comments. “I don’t think by any means it’s not something that everyone can be happy with, I think that’s where you find the common ground.
But that being said, I think what we have here is special, there’s no doubt about it. There’s no place I’d rather be. To be a part of such an unbelievable group of men, from staff to everybody involved, it’s just a blast to come to the rink every day. It truly is something special, I feel fortunate and blessed to be a part of it. I think that it’s something where we all want to be competitive and we all want to win, and how we were really close to getting that done last year. We all have the same goal this year, and I think that making sure we’re competitive, I think that takes precedent and doing what you need to do to be a competitive team. I think that’s most important to everybody.”
Youth Buying In
The five remaining players from the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions are all playing on contracts that are less than market value right now. Some were market value when signed but none of David Krejci ($7.2 million cap hit), Patrice Bergeron ($6.8 million cap hit), Zdeno Chara ($2 million cap hit), Brad Marchand ($6.1 million cap hit) and Tuukka Rask ($7 million cap hit) would’ve held out for more or become a distraction when they had the chance to. This Cup core is about winning and even before McAvoy, their influence was evident when young sniper David Pastrnak took less than market value and signed a six-year contract with a $6.6 million cap hit that even based on his potential at the time could’ve been more.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney credited that group of Stanley Cup champions for creating a culture where winning is just as important as money and is impressed with the way, the younger, developing core has adopted that mentality.
“I’m proud of our guys. I said that last year, I said it to start the year this year. I’m proud of what they accomplished last year, and they should be as well,” Sweeney said Sunday. “We have to turn the page, everyone starts at the same point, we have to climb the same hill and that’s a difficult challenge.
But I think they’ve been supported by a pretty unique group of individuals that have won, and I think they recognize that. I think Charlie and the others, they have recognized that support. But they’ve also been put in situations for their own talents to shine forth, and they’ve all stepped forward and helped us get to this point. But we have to keep going, we didn’t accomplish the goal and we have to start over. But they’re a big part of it.”
Sweeney also stressed the fact that “The Bruins will be there at the end” when McAvoy’s new contract expires, and also termed the deal as a “compromise for both sides” and a “platform” for McAvoy to take it to the next level and be “the player we all know he can be”.
The Bruins now have $3.2 million in cap space to sign their lone RFA, defenseman Brandon Carlo and Sweeney told the media Sunday that will be enough to get the deal done. He acknowledged he may put injured defenseman John Moore on long-term injured reserve to do so or just give the team a cap cushion and temporarily take Moore’s $2.7 million cap hit off the books. Either way though, McAvoy and this bridge deal allowed the Bruins to keep the band together in time for the 2019-20 season and another shot at the Stanley Cup.