While the 2021-22 NHL season just started, one of the Boston Bruins‘ biggest questions looming for next offseason may be answered sooner rather than later.
The Bruins and Charlie McAvoy have been in talks of a contract negotiation lately, Cam Neely said on Wednesday. The 23-year-old defenseman is playing on the final year of his three-year, $14.7 million contract that he signed in 2019. He is scheduled to be an RFA in the summer of 2022.
McAvoy is coming off of a breakout season, with 30 points in 61 games as the Bruins No. 1 defenseman. There were questions whether or not McAvoy could take on the heavy workload the Bruins needed after they lost Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, but McAvoy answered the bell, finishing the season fifth in Norris Trophy voting.
There’s no denying the importance that the Bruins lock McAvoy up long term. He is the star on the back end and is only going to get better in the next few years.
What would McAvoy’s contract extension look like for the Bruins?
For McAvoy, a great comparison was looking at the contract extension Miro Heiskanen got from the Dallas Stars this summer. Heiskanen, who also would have been an RFA in 2022, received an eight-year, $67.6 million extension, which comes to an AAV of $8.45 million.
Now McAvoy is a much better player than Heiskanen. In his career, McAvoy is averaging 0.52 points per game, while Heiskanen has 0.46. McAvoy plays a better defensive game than Heiskanen and plays a much bigger role on his team than the Finnish blue liner.
With that logic, it’s easy to think that McAvoy receives more than $9 million a year in his new deal. Cale Makar, Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse, Zach Werenski and Dougie Hamilton all just signed huge deals for defensemen this summer where the AAV was at least $9 million for all of them. You can make the argument that McAvoy is better than some of those fellow defensemen and deserves to be paid closer to $9.5 million.
However, you can never doubt Don Sweeney’s ability to get a hometown discount. It’s how most of this team has been built. If McAvoy takes the same route as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and takes a pay cut to stay in Boston, his AAV could sit more around Heiskanen’s at $8.5.
Ultimately, Sweeney and Co. should not play hardball with McAvoy. He took a bridge deal three years ago so that the Bruins could use money elsewhere for the time being. He’s proven that he is one of the top defensemen in the league and deserves to get paid like it. I don’t think they will and it’s smart on Sweeney’s part to get him signed before McAvoy takes another step forward this season and his stock goes even higher.
Neely said that his “hopes are we see something here in short order.” Don’t be shocked to see McAvoy and the Bruins figure out a deal before the season opener on Saturday.