(Photo by Rich Gagnon, BU Athletics)
It was only a matter of time until Charlie McAvoy prepared for the start of his professional hockey career. That process sped up once Boston University’s season ended with an overtime loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the NCAA tournament.
It took all of four days following the Terriers’ loss in the West Regional final for McAvoy to declare his intentions. On Wednesday, Don Sweeney announced that the Bruins’ 2016 first round pick will join the organization on an amateur tryout agreement (ATO). The now former BU blue-liner will report to the P-Bruins this weekend.
“Charlie has decided to forego the rest of his college career,” Sweeney said during Wednesday’s press conference at Warrior Ice Arena. “He’ll be signing his ATO very shortly and will be headed down to [Providence] to play in games this weekend.”
With the Bruins in the heat of another late-season playoff race in the Eastern Conference, some thought McAvoy could come in and immediately be inserted into the lineup. There was a reason for that sentiment, especially given the B’s defensive depth in the bottom six.
Asking a young player that already has high expectations to contribute in a playoff push is a tall task in and of itself. Asking a young defenseman to come in and help get the Bruins over the hump with just six games remaining is an even taller task.
“Especially on defense, that’s a tougher position,” interim coach Bruce Cassidy said about the expectations of a young and talented prospect to contribute immediately. “Generally those mistakes are magnified.”
Which is why McAvoy’s best path to success starts in Providence. And that is no knock on the talented defenseman either, who had an impressive two years on Commonwealth Ave and was one of the stars of Team USA’s run to the gold medal at this year’s World Junior Championships in Canada.
Don’t believe me? Just ask Brandon Carlo, who went through the same situation last year after his season ended in juniors.
Reporting to Providence last spring, Carlo acclimated himself to the professional game and earned himself a roster spot in Boston after training camp. Exactly one year removed from signing his ATO, Carlo is still alongside his opening night partner, Zdeno Chara, on the Bruins’ top defensive pair.
“I felt like that was a big benefit for me to do that and to come up here and play a couple of games for Providence was really awesome for me to realize what the pro style is like,” said the 20-year-old Colorado Springs native. “You know, the speed and the strength of the guys is a lot different than it was in juniors. You’re dealing with a lot of older guys who are men in this league, so, you know, it was a really good thing for me to get my first taste of that [in Providence].”
“Everyday preparation is different in juniors and college than it is in the pro[s],” Cassidy added.
“Coming to the NHL, you’re playing against men. In the AHL it’s a young league, but there’s some older guys. So I think that part of it is something that they’ll learn and pick up and understand.”
Pegged as a future puck-moving defenseman that can log top-four minutes, McAvoy will use the adjustment period in Providence before getting a chance to showcase his talents in Boston, most likely in the fall. With the ATO, the Bruins don’t have to waste a year on McAvoy’s entry level contract as part of the CBA. It’s a win-win for both parties.