(Photo Credit: Matt West)
By: Ian Smith | Follow Me On Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith
It’s still early in the season for the Boston Bruins, but it really looks like defenseman Charlie McAvoy is going to have a huge year. Through the first five games, McAvoy is averaging a point per game, as he has dished out four assists and netted one goal.
His performance last season hinted that he was going to be a great player at this level, and he’s already building on the promise he showed last year.
He played in 65 games last season and tallied 32 points, which consisted of 25 assists and seven goals in 22:09 average time on ice. The only rookie defenseman in the NHL last season who played at least 10 games and averaged more points per game than McAvoy was Will Butcher of the New Jersey Devils. McAvoy also led the Bruins with 26.4 shifts per game, illustrating the team’s belief that he can be deployed in any type of situation.
Playing with Zdeno Chara as a blue-line partner is every young defenseman’s dream, as there aren’t many better mentors than Chara to learn the game from. Chara was the only player on the Bruins to log more average ice time than McAvoy last season, and McAvoy actually had more Point Shares than Chara. McAvoy had 2.3 Offensive Point Shares and 4.5 Defensive Points Shares for a total of 6.8 Point Shares. Chara had 1.1 Offensive Point Shares and 5.2 Defensive Point Shares for a total of 6.3 Point Shares.
It’s fitting that McAvoy starred at Boston University and now looks like a future star for the pro club in town. He was drafted 14th overall in a 2016 draft class that’s already being highlighted by stars like Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. McAvoy was the third defenseman off the board in that draft, following Mikhail Sergachev taken 9th by the Montreal Canadiens and Jake Bean picked 13th by the Carolina Hurricanes. Bean has not debuted in the NHL yet, and Sergachev is coming off a 2018-19 season in which he had 40 points in 79 games.
McAvoy is a two-way defenseman who possesses a great feel for the game, although at 6-foot and 208 pounds he doesn’t have ideal size for the position. It hasn’t stopped other guys with a similar frame from becoming elite defensemen, but it lingers in the back of the mind as a concern. It looks even more dramatic when he’s paired with the 6-foot-9 and 250-pound Chara, although Chara would dwarf anyone partnered on the blue line with him.
The team is trying to pick up some of the slack with Torey Krug out for a while with a left ankle injury, and McAvoy is certainly doing his part. He’s tied for seventh in points among NHL defensemen as of October 15. Yes, it’s extremely early, but it’s also extremely encouraging that McAvoy hasn’t fallen into any type of prolonged sophomore slump to start the season. The Bruins are hoping that McAvoy can be a fixture on their top defensive pairing for the foreseeable future, and right now they have to be ecstatic about what they’ve seen from him so far.