The Bruins have started discussions regarding a contract extension for defenseman Charlie McAvoy, reports Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos (video link). He noted that the blueliner wants to avoid going the route of a bridge contract so a long-term deal is the focus here.
The 20-year-old is only in his second full NHL season after he burned the first year of his entry-level pact in 2016-17 when he suited up in six postseason contests. He’s off to a very strong start to his sophomore campaign with six points in seven games while logging just shy of 21 minutes per night on a fairly deep Boston back end.
However, his overall lack of NHL experience (just 76 games between the regular season and playoffs combined – less than one full season) could certainly complicate things. While there is cause for optimism that McAvoy will become one of the better offensive blueliners in the league, the lack of a track record in the pros could give Boston GM Don Sweeney some pause if the asking price comes in too high.
Kypreos suggested that Florida’s Aaron Ekblad could be a comparable second contract that McAvoy’s camp might push for. He is in the midst of an eight-year, $60MM pact that has really been a market-setter for defensemen coming off of their entry-level deals.
However, Ekblad had two full seasons under his belt at the time that deal was signed and has the draft pedigree of being a first overall selection, elements that aren’t in place here for McAvoy. However, their platform seasons are somewhat similar in terms of point production – McAvoy averaged 0.51 points per game last season while Ekblad checked in at 0.46 in his second year.
Even with that, it would be hard to envision McAvoy getting that much of a commitment this early from the Bruins. However, it could certainly be used as a starting point of negotiations which are likely to pick up in the weeks to come.
While McAvoy is Boston’s most prominent potential restricted free agent, they have three other notable youngsters that are also going to see their entry-level deals expire after the season in blueliner Brandon Carlo as well as wingers Ryan Donato and Danton Heinen. They have just shy of $64MM committed to 16 players for next season per CapFriendly so while it’s going to cost a lot to get McAvoy locked up long-term, they have the financial flexibility to get a deal done without causing much of an issue when it comes to the salary cap.
While Sweeney will certainly be keeping an eye on the trade market in the weeks and months to come as he likely will be looking to add before the trade deadline, a new deal for his top young defenseman is also going to be near the top of his priority list at that time.