Charlie McAvoy is no stranger to the spotlight.
For two years at Boston University, McAvoy helped the Terriers overcome the loss of the talented Jack Eichel after he departed to Buffalo following his lone season on Commonwealth Avenue in 2015. From a pair of Beanpot appearances to the Hockey East and NCAA tournament, McAvoy has his fair share of experiences in big game situations – most recently in the West regionals in Fargo where he scored the game-winner in double overtime to knock off North Dakota a day before BU’s season ended to Minnesota-Duluth for the right to go to the Frozen Four.
All eyes were back on Comm Ave once McAvoy’s season ended. From there, the McAvoy watch continued in Providence where he showcased his brilliance in four games with the P-Bruins.
The only question regarding McAvoy wasn’t so much about his on-ice play as he transitioned from college to the AHL, but rather whether or not he’d be debuting in Boston as the Bruins approached the playoffs. With injuries to Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo, Don Sweeney’s decision to burn the first-year of McAvoy’s entry-level contract was a no-brainer.
On Monday, the 14th overall pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft skated for the first time with his fellow Bruins teammates at Warrior Ice Arena.
“We feel comfortable after seeing him play recently,” the Bruins GM said about throwing McAvoy into the playoff mix without any regular season experience. “We think with his skill set that he will be able to handle it.”
Given to how quickly McAvoy handled the learning curve from college to the AHL, the Bruins have a reason to be confident about his potential. Paired on Providence’s top defensive pairing with former Boston College blue-liner Tommy Cross, McAvoy learned the pro style and produced on the stat sheet with a pair of assists and a plus-3 rating.
The learning curve from the AHL to the NHL – especially during the Stanley Cup Playoffs – is a little different, however.
“Trying to learn how to be a pro,” McAvoy, who will don jersey No. 73, said about his time in Providence. “I was around a lot of great players down in Providence and a lot of great people. I know I was only there for a few weeks, but they taught me a lot of good lessons to, you know, how to adjust to the pro game. So I’m very thankful for that.”
McAvoy – and the Bruins – will be thankful if those lessons in Providence translates into success at the NHL level at a rather quick pace.
“It’s the next step and it’s obviously the highest level,” McAvoy added. “You know, I feel that I’ll be put in a good position to succeed. I know that this organization wants me to succeed and they want me to be successful as well. So I know that they’ll have my best interests in mind.”
His first path to success began in Providence. With Krug’s injury, the need for a puck moving defenseman against Guy Boucher’s 1-3-1 system gave McAvoy a chance to continue his path to Boston.
Whether he skates with Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara or John-Michael Liles – as he did on the third defensive pair during Monday’s practice – is anyone’s guess during the next 48 hours. Given McAvoy’s skillset, there’s a reason for Sweeney, Bruce Cassidy and the rest of the Bruins brass to have confidence in the highly-touted young blue-liner.
“He’s still new to us and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” Cassidy said about McAvoy, “but Charlie is a guy up to this point who has had no problem in the limelight and in big games. So we hope that continues.”