Even for a highly touted first round pick, being thrown into the proverbial fire can be tough to overcome. That didn’t happen to Charlie McAvoy last spring.
Following his impressive winter that included a gold medal with his fellow U.S. countrymen in the World Junior Championships and his productive sophomore campaign at Boston University, McAvoy opted to forego his final two years with the Terriers to begin his professional hockey career.
At first, he signed a PTO and was slated to play the rest of the 2016-17 season in Providence. But injuries to Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug during the last two games of the regular season forced Don Sweeney’s hand as the Bruins promoted McAvoy and signed him to an entry-level contract.
Even with just six playoff games under his belt, McAvoy’s first year of his entry-level deal had to be burned. But there’s no denying that he filled in for Carlo, Krug, Adam McQuaid and the rest of the Bruins’ blue-line that fell victim to the injury bug at the absolute worst time. During that span, the 14th overall pick of the 2016 Draft skated with Zdeno Chara on the Bruins top defensive pairing and more than held his own tallying three assists and averaging 26:11 of ice time in the B’s first round loss to the Ottawa Senators.
That postseason experience, along with his off-season program that included frequent ice visits at Agganis Arena and a couple of appearances in the Foxboro Pro-Am Summer League, gives McAvoy an added level of confidence as he embarks on his first full season in Black and Gold.
“The experience that I had last year was an unbelievable opportunity,” McAvoy said following Friday’s captain’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “That experience was so valuable to myself to get familiar with the organization and the team itself. I can use that going into camp now. The rookie camp, the main camp and the regular season, all those things are going to be exciting. I’m excited to have a full year here and definitely use all those experiences that I had to make sure I’m ready to go.”
With McAvoy’s playoff debut in the rearview mirror, his focus shifts to the upcoming season. In one week, he’ll lead the Bruins youngsters in Buffalo during the Prospects Challenge. One week later, the full training camp commences in Brighton.
Even with early talk as a Calder Trophy finalist, and Krug, Carlo and McQuaid returning to full health to help stabilize things on the back end, McAvoy isn’t taking anything for granted, especially when the competition to fill out the final roster spots heats up.
“Like I said, just being familiar with everybody. I kind of know the support cast now [and] everybody around the organization,” said McAvoy, who will be joined by fellow Bruins defensive prospects Jeremy Lauzon, Rob O’Gara, Jakub Zboril and fellow ex-Terrier Matt Grzeclyk come camp time.
“So, I kind of feel comfortable now coming in here, but with that being said, I know it’s going to be a very competitive camp with a lot of guys looking to get the same spots that everybody else is looking for. But I’ll definitely use those experiences [from last year] and bring some confidence and play my game.”
“Yeah, I think pulling from last year’s experience, you know, a couple of things that I learned,” McAvoy added. “As far as the game I want to play – the game that allows me to have the most success – I can just hopefully pick up where I left off and play the way I feel I need to play to help the team and, you know, just do everything that I can to put myself in a great spot to be on that opening day roster.”
Given his performance in his six postseason games against the Senators last year, there’s little doubt that McAvoy will hear his name called come October 5 when the Bruins host the defending Western Conference champion Predators on opening night.