Ryan Duffy | Follow me on Twitter @Rduffy26
With the 2021-22 NHL season looming, teams throughout the league have taken the initiative to sign their number one defensemen to extensions at long-term and high average-annual-value. Players like Zach Werenski being extended by the Blue Jackets (6 years X $9.583m AAV), Seth Jones by the Blackhawks (8 years X $9.5m AAV), Darnell Nurse by the Oilers (8 years X $9.25m AAV), and Cale Makar by the Avalanche (6 years X $9m AAV) to name a few.
With these signings of number one defensemen for each of these teams, this bears the question of what will an extension for Charlie McAvoy look like in the coming months for Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins management? Based on the market value that these comparable defensemen have signed extensions for, it’s without a doubt we can all say that McAvoy deserves a similar AAV to these players considering his continual progression on both ends of the ice each year in the NHL.
McAvoy showed his true colors and offensive potential in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs, logging massive minutes in crucial situations and producing just over a point-per-game. Before being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Islanders in six games, McAvoy was leading all defensemen in points with 12 in 11 games (1.09 PPG), tallying a goal and 11 assists. McAvoy averaged 26:38 in ice time over the course of the 11 games as he played in all situations for Boston.
What perhaps was the biggest stand out of McAvoy’s game in the playoffs was his puck-moving ability as he spent the majority of his powerplay minutes quarterbacking the first powerplay unit. Although it might not come as a surprise that McAvoy could run a powerplay, it certainly opened up many eyes, considering eight of his 12 points came on the powerplay in the playoffs. Given his success on the powerplay, it’s likely that Bruce Cassidy will continue to place McAvoy on the top unit.
Because we’ll be seeing more of McAvoy on the first unit, don’t be surprised if there is a massive incline in point production and points-per-game this coming season. McAvoy has been relatively consistent in point production as he has an average of .527 points-per-game over the past three seasons. With all this being said, fans can expect his average to continually climb and will evidently increase his value on the open market.
Sweeney and the Bruin’s management have had the tendency to put off contract extension talks with their players until the offseason. This trend cannot continue into the offseason since there is a possibility that McAvoy would receive an offer sheet from other teams. McAvoy has also now qualified to file for arbitration in the summer of 2022.
Either of these scenarios would be detrimental for the Bruins since the market value for similar defensemen is over $9 million, and the Bruins currently have just over $21 million in cap space for the 2022-23 season. The Bruins are approaching the end of their Stanley Cup window with the team core aging, and if management is hoping to remain competitive and continue to contend for the cup in years to come, they will have to sign McAvoy at a classic “hometown discount.”
McAvoy and Michael Curran, McAvoy’s agent, will absolutely consider the contract value and term that the comparable defensemen have signed extensions for this offseason when discussions begin between management and McAvoy. They will also consider the fact that he finished fifth in voting for the Norris Trophy this past season. With powerplay minutes and overall minutes expected to climb next season, don’t be surprised if McAvoy becomes a top three nominee for the Norris next season.
Based on how Sweeney and management have been able to sign their notable players like Marchand, Pastrnak, Hall, and Carlo to team-friendly deals, I find it likely that they’ll be able to sign a similar contract with McAvoy at a bit of an upgrade in AAV. The AAV will probably fall anywhere between $7.5 million and $8.5 million, which would be mutually beneficial financially for both parties. Because of management’s history of signing players to team-friendly deals in terms of value, I don’t believe McAvoy’s AAV will be the falling point between both sides but rather the term of the contract.
McAvoy and Curran will more than likely push for a five-to-six-year contract in hopes of the market value for number one defensemen and the annual salary cap to raise over the next couple of seasons, whereas Bruins management would look to lock McAvoy into an eight-year deal. There is no doubt in my mind that McAvoy and the Bruins will come to an agreement at some point this season, but at this point, both sides do not seem too urgent to sign a deal before the start of the 2021-22 season.
More than likely, extension talks between the McAvoy camp and Bruins management will begin anywhere between midway through the season to the beginning of the postseason in 2022. This would allow the Bruins to make a couple of trade deadline acquisitions to contend for the cup for the 2022 playoffs and potentially next season (baring an increase in the NHL salary cap). Either way, the Bruins organization, and its loyal fans knew that this day was coming after McAvoy signed his bridge deal in the summer of 2019, and now “Chucky Bright Lights” is about to get PAID.