The Boston Bruins defense now belongs to Charlie McAvoy. The changing of the guard has begun in Boston, as future Hall of Fame inductee Zdeno Chara passes the torch. McAvoy and Chara dominated for the Bruins a season ago, giving the club arguably the best defensive pairing in the league. The only thing holding McAvoy back from taking that next step into the elite category? His health.
For the second straight season, McAvoy missed a large chunk of games. After appearing in just 63 games in 2017-18, he found his way into just 54 a season ago. When he is on the ice, McAvoy is the best defenseman in the division. He just isn’t on the ice enough, and that is an issue.
Good health in 2019-20 and a continuing of his upward trajectory will put McAvoy into the elite category. The Boston Bruins have always had elite defensemen on their roster. From Eddie Shore to Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Chara, the Bruins have always had THE guy. McAvoy will officially become the next one in 2019-20.
McAvoy missed considerable time during the regular season, playing in just 54 games. He still managed 28 points (7 g, 21 a), just about .5 points-per-game. Even in just 54 games, McAvoy finished second among Bruins defensemen in points. He trailed only Torey Krug, who finished the campaign with 53 points.
Possession wise, McAvoy was a stud and had the puck moving in the right direction constantly. He posted a Corsi For of 54.1% at five-on-five, +1% relative to his teammates. His five-on-five Fenwick For of 55.7% was also outstanding. He was positive relative to his teammates here, too, posting a +2.1% relative number.
He was a no doubt top pairing defender for the club a season ago. McAvoy averaged 22:10 of ice time per game, and played on both the powerplay and penalty kill. When he is in the lineup, he is a workhorse.
McAvoy appeared in 23 playoff games for the Bruins, playing 24:30 per game and finishing with eight points (2 g, 6 a). He was arguably the Bruins most consistent player during the playoffs. Even when injuries to key players struck, McAvoy was able to calm the waters. That has immense value.
McAvoy is the best all-around defenseman not just on the Bruins, but in the Atlantic Division. The expectations for 2019-20 should be high for this player. McAvoy has taken a step forward in each of his first two seasons. It is fair to expect more of the same in 2019-20.
Expect McAvoy to be the Bruins most used defenseman at even strength, and expect more powerplay and penalty kill time for him. He’s the club’s workhorse, he’ll be put out in every situation. The thing about McAvoy is that he has very few flaws. Offensively, he’s got good instincts and can move the puck. He’s not Krug, but he’s competent offensively and provides an element of mobility.
Defensively, McAvoy knows how to read the play perfectly. He has the ability to both stand opponents up at the blueline and break up a cycle. There is very little he cannot do.
Expect McAvoy to once again be the leader of the Bruins defense. He’s arguably the most important player on this roster.
Official Prediction: 73 GP, 10 Goals, 29 Assists, 39 Points, +17, 22:34 TOI