Bruins bridging for a long-term investment with Charlie McAvoy
The Boston Bruins’ salary cap situation prevented them from signing Charlie McAvoy at market value. So, the old bridge deal came into play as McAvoy put his John Hancock on a three-year contract extension with a $4.9 million annual cap hit.
Make no mistake, though. The Bruins have McAvoy — and likely Brandon Carlo — factored into their long-term plans. GM Don Sweeney acknowledged such when meeting with the media Sunday at Warrior Ice Arena.
“I’ve looked at this as, there’s well beyond three years as to what Charlie is going to play for the Boston Bruins,” Sweeney told reporters. “But we’re obviously excited that we got him back in our group here, an important, important part of our hockey club this year, last year, and many years going forward.”
McAvoy was there to hear Sweeney’s comments to the media. Of course, McAvoy would’ve loved to have signed a long-term extension, but the team’s salary cap situation necessitated a short-term deal.
But McAvoy will still be paid handsomely once he enters the third year of his new deal in 2021-22. By then, Tuukka Rask’s, David Krejci’s and David Backes’ contracts will be off the books. The trio is on the books for a combined $20.25 million for the next two seasons.
Only Krejci and Rask are likely to return after 2020-21. That should give Sweeney more room to work with for McAvoy’s next contract if he plays his cards correctly. Judging from his comments, he’ll do everything he can to give McAvoy his deserving long-term deal.
“I can just reiterate how fortunate I am to be a part of this team and this organization. And I’m just lucky, I’m happy to be back,” McAvoy told the press. “I’m not going to get too far down the road other than today, it was good to be back on the ice and to see everybody. Tomorrow I get a chance to be a better hockey player and we take it from there, we keep going.”
Well, McAvoy showcased flashes of brilliance during his first three years in Boston. He gave the Bruins’ blue-line a much needed shot in the arm with an explosive first step and tremendous transition game. His development into a well-rounded defenseman now has him anchoring the right side of Boston’s D core.
But the Bruins want to see McAvoy fully healthy. He’s suited up 117 of a possible 164 regular season games as an MCL Sprain and a heart condition in 2018 and a concussion in 2019 sidelined him for significant stretches of the 82-game slate(s).
McAvoy acknowledged such when asked about his personal improvements that he wants to achieve heading into a promising 2019-20 campaign.
“Well, I think overall as a player, I always strive to become better, to grow in all aspects, to reach my full potential. I think as Don said, this is an opportunity for me to grow into the player that I’ve become. And obviously I’ve had a little bit of bad luck as far as injuries go, and little stuff like that. Some things are out of your control, you know?” McAvoy said.
“But I’ve always been fortunate to have this support of the organization through all that, which means a whole lot to me. My goal is to go out and become the best hockey player I can be…to grow into one of the best defensemen, hopefully in the league.”
There’s another goal McAvoy has in mind, though, especially after coming so close to achieving a dream this past June.
“We can’t go back and change anything now, but we have the future here in front of us and we can do everything in my power,” McAvoy said. “I know everybody is going to be pulling the rope in the same direction. We’re a motivated group and I’m looking forward to just getting out there and making sure I do everything in my power to be ready to go for Game 1 this season and to get us off on a positive note.”
Well, at least training camp got off to that positive note — albeit a bit late — following McAvoy’s signing. The forecast will get a little more clear once Carlo inks his new deal.
Getting back to the Stanley Cup Final — and winning it — won’t be easy. But Boston’s window stayed wide open following McAvoy’s bridge deal.