While no deal is imminent, Bruins president Cam Neely said Wednesday he is hopeful that the organization can reach an extension with defenseman Charlie McAvoy soon.
McAvoy, who is in the final year of a three-year, $14.7 million contract, said last month that he was focused on preparing for the season. His agent, Michael Curran, echoed the sentiment.
With the Bruins set to open the season Saturday against the Dallas Stars, Neely said general manager Don Sweeney and assistant general manager Evan Gold were in talks with McAvoy’s camp in recent days and was optimistic that a deal would get done.
“My hopes are we’ll see something here in short order,” Neely said. “But you never know until it’s signed on the dotted line.”
Sweeney was more reserved in his characterization of the negotiation.
“He’s aware of the marketplace and aware of maybe what his position on the team is,” Sweeney said. “Those deals take time, as they do with every different player.
“There’s nothing imminent, but we’re hopeful that we continue to have talks periodically with different players and the timing will present itself.
“We would dearly like to have Charlie as part of the organization for a long period of time, and hopefully it’s mutual. And that’s generally when deals come together.
“We think highly of him both as a player and as a person, and he’s growing into a leadership role, he’s been included in that leadership group, and hopefully that’s an indication that Charlie’s grown into the person, both as a leader as a player, that we all hoped he would be.”
McAvoy was taken by the Bruins out of Boston University with the 14th pick in the 2016 draft. In four seasons, he has scored 24 goals and notched 98 assists. His plus-80 over that span is sixth among defensemen leaguewide.
“I haven’t heard any indication that Charlie wouldn’t want to play here for his whole career,” Neely said. “So that’s what we’re looking towards and hopefully we can get something done that gives him an opportunity to do just that.
“He’s embraced Boston. He went to college here. I think he likes the city, he loves the sports environment, loves our fan base.
“Playing in front of a packed house every night is certainly something special; there’s a number of teams that can say that, but it’s certainly special when you actually step on the ice there and you see a packed house.”
McAvoy became extension-eligible when free agency opened July 28. While talks were slow to start, other defensemen around the league commanded large sums, including Dougie Hamilton getting a seven-year, $63 million deal with the New Jersey Devils.
“For us, the marketplace at times gets set during the free-agent period, which could be a little over-inflated, as we’ve all seen in free agency,” Neely said. “That’s just the nature of the business.
“But I think in the past we’ve been very fair and honest with our players when we negotiate with them. It’s not about trying to win anything. It’s about trying to land at the right spot where both sides are very happy, and that’s where we are with Charlie.”
Swayman to start?
With Linus Ullmark still getting up to speed, Jeremy Swayman would appear to be in line to start in net on opening night, though no official announcement has been made.
“It looks to me like he’s got a bright future,” Neely said. “Goaltending is a unique position, as everybody knows, and I think Jeremy’s got such a great head on his shoulders. He seems a lot more mature than he is on the ice — certainly off the ice, same way.
“He practices hard, he’s out there staying as long as guys want to shoot, and he’ll be out there, but he’s a competitor as well. It’s what I love about, you know, goaltending in the past; they do like to compete and Jeremy’s no different.”
Door open for Rask, Krejci
Tuukka Rask is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a torn hip labrum, and David Krejci is playing in front of his family in his homeland of the Czech Republic. But Neely left room for both to return to the Bruins if they choose.
“The door’s open,” Neely said. “Tuukka’s going through his rehab process and we’ll see where that takes him.
“We told them both that the door is open, if they do decide to try and come back, then we’ll see where it goes from there. But that remains to be seen for both of them. It really depends on where they’re at both mentally and physically.
“From David Krejci’s perspective, if he has an interest of coming back — I know the family situation was very important for him and rightfully so — we’ll see where it goes.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.