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Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and the representation for defenseman Charlie McAvoy have opened dialogue on a potential contract extension, according to Nick Kypreos of Sporsnet.

“Of course, he’s one of those high, young players looking for a long-term extension,” Kypreos said during an intermission segment of Saturday’s Bruins-Canucks broadcast in Canada. “He’d love to avoid the bridge contract. I think it’s safe to say his representation will look towards the Aaron Ekblad contract extension with the Florida Panthers. That had an AAV of $7.5 [million]. With an aging [Zdeno] Chara, it’s certainly something for the Bruins to consider.”

Ekblad, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2014 NHL Draft, signed his eight-year, $60 million contract in July 2016, and after posting back-to-back seasons of at least 36 points to begin his professional career.

A $7.5 million per year contract would of course make McAvoy the Black and Gold’s highest paid skater, eclipsing forward David Krejci’s $7.25 million cap hit. But McAvoy has shown signs of being worth it, as he’s emerged as the organization’s clear heir to Zdeno Chara’s throne as the team’s No. 1 defenseman, and has skated as a top-pairing defender since first breaking into the NHL during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

McAvoy also headlines a list of 2019 Bruins free agents that includes fellow restricted free agents Brandon Carlo, Ryan Donato, and Danton Heinen, as well as unrestricted free agents Noel Acciari and Chara.

Barring another cap increase or another contract with term added to their books this season or early in the 2019 offseason, Sweeney and the Bruins currently have $15.6 million in available cap space to re-sign those pieces.

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