The next big contract extension the Bruins hand out will likely have Charlie McAvoy’s name on it.
The date and dollar amount on the potential deal are TBD.
Soon to arrive at training camp, the Bruins’ 23-year-old franchise defenseman isn’t saying much about his contract, which expires after this season.
“Honestly, I don’t have any comment on it,” McAvoy told the Globe Aug. 26 at the Ray Bourque Foundation golf tournament in Stratham, N.H. “I’m just really excited for the year, just worrying about this summer, being in the best spot to get ready for camp.
“I think we’re going to have a heck of a team. I can’t wait to meet the new guys. I just want to get after it.”
McAvoy’s agent, Michael Curran, also didn’t comment, saying he didn’t want to draw attention to the matter.
“For Charlie, it’s all about focusing on the season,” Curran said. “He wants to go out and have a really good season, and focus on what he can do for the team, really solidify himself as a top D-man in the league.”
McAvoy is entering the final year of a three-year bridge deal, signed in 2019, worth $4.9 million annually. Based on the megabucks handed out to young defensemen in free agency this summer — his closest comparable, Columbus’s Zach Werenski, earned a six-year extension worth $57.5 million — a long-term deal with McAvoy could pay him double his current hit.
That’s if McAvoy wants a long-term deal. McAvoy, who was eligible to sign an extension on July 28, could become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2024, following his seventh year in the league. He could sign another bridge deal that walks him to that date, and test the free agent market. Or, he could lock in a maximum eight-year extension with the Bruins.
McAvoy is set to make $7.3 million in salary this season, second among his teammates to Charlie Coyle ($8 million). Were McAvoy not to sign an extension before next offseason, the Bruins would have to offer him at least $7.3 million on a one-year deal (an RFA qualifying offer) or risk losing him as an unrestricted free agent.
If McAvoy’s goal is to reach elite status in the NHL, he’s arguably there now. Last season, he finished fifth in the Norris Trophy voting for top defenseman. He produced a 5-25—30 line in 51 games, played 24:00 per night, and anchored an in-flux Bruins blue line that lost Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug the previous summer.
Though McAvoy didn’t earn top-unit power-play minutes until late in the season — potentially hurting his point total — he is one of the elite play-driving defensemen in the game.
Among the 68 defensemen who played more than 900 minutes at five on five, per Natural Stat Trick, McAvoy ranked in the top 10 in a host of categories: first in on-ice shot differential (61.1 percent), third in shot attempt differential (58.5 percent), fourth in expected goals for (58.8 percent) and scoring chances for (58.1 percent), and ninth in goals for (61 percent).
The Bruins burned a year of McAvoy’s entry-level deal in 2017 when they needed help for the playoffs. They knew they had a gem then. They know diamonds are expensive.
“He wants to control what he can control,” Curran said, “and let the chips fall where they may.”
Many Bruins players are expected to be at the Bruins Foundation golf tournament Wednesday in Plymouth.