Boston Bruins: Is Charlie McAvoy the best defenseman in the NHL?

Is Boston Bruins’ defenseman Charlie McAvoy the best at his position in the National Hockey League?

A couple of days ago, NHL Network put out a list of defensemen asking, “Who is the top defenseman in the NHL right now?” To no one’s surprise, Boston Bruins‘ blue-liner Charlie McAvoy was one of the 25 D-men listed.

So, this list got me thinking, is McAvoy actually the best defenseman in the league right now?

It’s clear as day that McAvoy is the Bruins best defenseman. He can do it all, score from the point, lead the rush, jump in on the rush, start the rush with a great first pass, and defend anything and anyone.

Since joining the Bruins in 2017-18, McAvoy has played 184 of the possible 234 games. In that time, he has produced 92 points (19 goals and 73 assists). Among defensemen, his 92 points rank 46th, 19 goals are tied for 54th, and 73 assists are tied for 43rd.

Additionally, of the defensemen that have played at least 2,000 minutes over this time, McAvoy is tied for 51st in goals per 60 (0.28), tied for 35th in assist per 60 (1.06), and tied for 39th in points per 60 (1.33).

Obviously, McAvoy isn’t the best defenseman when it comes to offense. However, he’s one of the best defensively. Over his first three seasons in the NHL, McAvoy has a plus/minus (+/-) of +58, expected goals against (xGA) of 126.3, and expected plus/minus (E+/-) of +24.5.

In other words, when McAvoy is on the ice the Bruins score more goals than let up goals.

Do the Boston Bruins have the best overall defenseman in the NHL?

The answer to this question is simply no. McAvoy is great, but he just isn’t the best…. yet.

At just 22 years old, he is still developing. Additionally, McAvoy has yet to play more than 70 games in season. His rookie year he played just 63, sophomore year just 54, and this year was stopped at 67 because of COVID-19.

Although he isn’t the best defenseman in the NHL today, I think McAvoy very well could be the best in a few years. His rookie year 82-game pace was 41.7 points, sophomore year was 42.5, and this year was 39.2.

So he has been on pace for around 40 points each of his first three seasons. Eventually, I would think, he’ll break out and score at least 60 points. This is when I would consider McAvoy the best overall defenseman in the NHL.

Right now, the honor of best defenseman in the NHL either goes to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman or the Nashville Predators’ Roman Josi.