Boston Bruins’ top priority for the future of the team

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 22: Charlie McAvoy
NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 22: Charlie McAvoy /

Forget where John Tavares will sign in 2018. Buzz is already surrounding the biggest names set to hit the market in 2019.  What should the Boston Bruins do?

2019 is closer than it may seem, Boston Bruins fans.  Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty headline the free agent class for 2019 and have already made waves when discussing how they will each approach their next contract.

The two Norris Trophy winners recently proclaimed that they won’t take a penny less than what they are worth. At this point, both will require considerably more than P.K. Subban who will receive $9 million a year through the 2021-22 season. This makes the price tag upwards of $10 million a year for each blue chip blueliner.

Both Doughty and Karlsson are under 30 years old, and elite puck moving defenseman are in high demand in the modern NHL, so this price is fair value, however scary it may be to their respective teams.

Ripple effect

This is worth mentioning because the Bruins will also need to sign a promising puck possessor on the backend in 2019, Charlie McAvoy. Boston Bruins fans and management are ready to hand the kid the keys to kingdom after his first 37 games in the NHL (6 in postseason). He is not even 20 years old and is second on the team in time on ice to Zdeno Chara.

Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 18: Charlie McAvoy /

He isn’t old enough to enter a Boston bar, but is thriving against the opposition’s best night in and night out. He submitted a Gordie Howe hat trick in his most recent outing against the Columbus Blue Jackets to add his first career fight and bring his point total to 21.

Needless to say, all the praise McAvoy has drawn is well deserved, which is why it will be interesting to see if he can continue to develop at this rapid rate, and how Cam Neely and Don Sweeney will handle negotiations to extend him beyond 2019.

Contract comparisons

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The powers that be drew a line in the sand when negotiating David Pastrnak’s new contract this past summer, which resulted in a stand-off by the two sides that nearly spilled into the start of training camp and caused Bruins nation to panic. The Bs’ brass luckily got away with this hardline approach toward Pasta, but they should not make this mistake with their golden goose. McAvoy spends more time on the ice and possessing the puck than Pastrnak.

Pasta can pump out points, but McAvoy already dominates the play and controls the tempo of the game. Goal scorers are very valuable, but promising puck moving defenseman are a rarity that are almost invaluable. Therefore, Pasta’s contract should not be used as an equivalent when at the bargaining table.

Another person the suits may point to as McAvoy’s peer is Torey Krug. With all due respect to Torey Krug, McAvoy and Krug are not comparable in terms of their value to the Bruins and their projected ceilings. Krug is 26 years old and should be peaking any day now while McAvoy is already surpassing Krug’s level of play and asserting himself as the offensive leader on the backend.

McAvoy’s game more closely resembles the play that Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson displayed when they signed their current contracts. McAvoy actually outplayed Drew Doughty in the Bruins’ two games against the Los Angeles Kings this season. 

Doughty was extended in 2011 for 8 years worth $56 million. Karlsson was locked down in 2012 for 7 years worth $45.5 million. Karlsson is undoubtedly underpaid as his teammate, Dion Phaneuf, signed a 7 year $49 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013 and is a $7 million cap hit for the Senators compared to Karlsson’s $6.5 million hit. Just to be clear, Phaneuf doesn’t hold a candle to the Karlsson.

The market has significantly improved for puck moving defenseman since the time Doughty and Karlsson signed their current contracts, and they aim to change the market even further.

"“I think it’s time to realize that when we go to the table, it’s business on both parts, not just [owners]. That’s the business part of it. That’s the way every player has been treated ever since this league has started, and I think the players have been a little bit on the other side of things when it comes to negotiations,” expressed Karlsson."

Next: Bruins week 11: Not the best

For what it’s worth

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand may be the Bruins’ most valuable players for the now, but Charlie McAvoy is the most important piece for the future and he must be retained at all costs. Bs management would be wise to proceed with caution when entering talks to extend the future of the organization.

It is important for management to pay McAvoy what he is worth to secure a solid foundation on which to build their house. If they play hardball, they risk cracking the foundation similar to the Senators situation with Erik Karlsson. McAvoy is worth the investment.