Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy knows he’s about to get paid and paid big.
The 23-year-old star rearguard, who finished fifth in Norris Trophy voting last season, is entering the final year of a three-year contract that carries a $4.9 million salary cap hit. McAvoy scored five goals and had 25 assists in 51 games last season He was also a plus 22 and became a bonafide workhorse, averaging 24 minutes per game. He followed that up by arguably being the best player for the Boston Bruins in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a goal and eleven assists in 11 games. After a summer that saw multiple blue line comparables to him hit paydirt, the future of the Bruins’ blue line knows that the Bruins will eventually have no choice but to show him ‘The Quan’ and the money. That’s why he can simply focus on being an even better player this season and increasing his value.
“No, just playing hockey. That’s it. That’s it,” McAvoy replied recently when asked about contract negotiations distracting him as he prepares for the 2021-22 regular season. “You see all those D-men, I’m very happy for them. I know quite a few of them and I couldn’t be happier for them. They’re all very well deserved. But I’m excited about this year, excited about the group we have. Being back together, seeing everyone is always so awesome. I feel like we’ve had a good few days here to start, and I just want to keep building on it.”
Here are the defensemen McAvoy’s referring to that have helped line him up for a huge payday soon with the new contracts they signed this offseason:
-Seth Jones, Blackhawks: 8 years, $9.5 million cap hit
-Darnell Nurse, Oilers: 8 years, $9.25 million cap hit
-Miro Heiskanen, Stars: 8 years, $8.45 million cap hit
-Dougie Hamilton, Devils: 7 year, $9 million cap hit
-Zach Werenski, Blue Jackets: 6 years, $9.58 million cap hit
-Cale Makar, Avalanche: 6 years, $9 million cap hit
However, while he’s two years younger, Rasmus Dahlin’s new three-year, $18 million contract ($6 million cap hit), with the Buffalo Sabres definitely didn’t help McAvoy and a defenseman market that had trended upwards and seemed to be finding its plateau for now. The read here is McAvoy will still come in with a minimum $9 million cap hit as a starting point in negotiations if he hasn’t already.
For now, though, McAvoy is more focused on playing an even more important role with the Boston Bruins this season, specifically on the top powerplay unit with the three best offensive weapons the Bruins have in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.
“Well, I had a lot of fun playing with those guys last year,” McAvoy said. “Obviously they’re world-class players, so I enjoyed that. So long as I’m back there, I want to be reliable and make the plays I’m supposed to make and get those guys the puck in positions where they can show their skill and make good plays and I can compliment them well.
So that’s what I’m looking to do and build confidence more and more as we do it. Last year it was good. It was easy to play with confidence with them. Obviously, the way they move the puck and have such good chemistry, you just want to be a complement to them. That’s my goal, to be reliable and make the plays I’m supposed to make.”
As for his five-on-five minutes, it’s appearing more and more that McAvoy could be paired with newcomer Derek Forbort rather than Matt Grzelcyk to start the season.
“Good. It’s been a lot of fun,” McAvoy said of his new blue line partner. “Lot of talk, of course, to try to acclimate. He seems to be a great defender, so he’s easy to play within the D-zone drills. We’ve been moving the puck well when we get into the five-on-five stuff. It’s been fun, it’s been easy, and I’ve enjoyed it.”