In 2016, the Boston Bruins selected their defenseman of the future by drafting Long Island-born Charlie McAvoy 14th overall out of Boston University. McAvoy would play the 2016-17 season for BU, but then make the jump to professional hockey after the college season was over.
McAvoy instantly impressed in Providence, registering two assists in four games. He would make his NHL debut in the playoffs that season and even impress there, recording three assists in six games. At just 19 years old, McAvoy was already able to hang out with the best of the best and has only gotten better since.
In 2017, the Dallas Stars selected their defenseman of the future by drafting Espoo-born Miro Heiskanen third overall. Unlike McAvoy, Heiskanen has only played in the NHL since being drafted — no college or AHL.
Saturday afternoon, the Stars were able to lock up their star defenseman, signing him to a massive eight-year, $67.6 million extension ($8.45 million average annual value [AAV]). With McAvoy being a restricted free agent (RFA) after 2021-22, this deal is a great comparable to see what McAvoy’s extension will look like.
Charlie McAvoy should make more than Miro Heiskanen.
While Heiskanen has been one of the best young defenseman in the NHL since being drafted (both in his own zone and creating offense), McAvoy has been even better.
Heiskanen has a career points per game average of 0.46, which is pretty good for a defenseman. However, McAvoy’s is better at 0.52. Some may argue that this is because McAvoy plays with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and now Taylor Hall and Craig Smith, but Heiskanen also has star scorers on his team in Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and even fellow blueliner John Klingberg. McAvoy just has a knack for making smart passes and being able to get the puck to the net to produce points.
In the defensive zone, McAvoy is also the superior defenseman. McAvoy can beat an oncoming forward in several different ways. He’s built to make a punishing check if the situation permits, but can also swipe the puck away with an accurate poke check.
Heiskanen, on the other hand, is often decent in his own zone but has struggled a bit before. He isn’t built like McAvoy, which makes it difficult for him to be physical. He has to rely on poke checks and body positioning to win board battles while McAvoy can just come in and force his way to the puck.
Overall, Heiskanen’s deal gives you a good idea of where McAvoy’s next cap hit will be. As McAvoy is the better defenseman, he should get more than $8.45 million per year. However, from what we’ve seen in the past, Bruins’ general manager Don Sweeney is a master at getting home-grown stars to take discounts and sign team-friendly deals. If this is the case with McAvoy, there’s a chance his deal is worth less than Heiskanen’s — but not by much. I think McAvoy’s AAV for his next contract will be between $7.5 million and $9.5 million.