By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Signing Charlie McAvoy long-term remains one of the top priorities for the Boston Bruins. A new report suggests they tried to lock it in last offseason, but the defenseman wouldn't sign on the dotted line.
As part of an in-depth new story on McAvoy's contract situation by The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa, the 21-year-old blue liner reportedly turned down a "long-term offer" last offseason through his agent Rick Curran. A possible sticking point in negotiations has been the extension that Aaron Ekblad received from the Florida Panthers: eight years, $60 million - a $7.5 million AAV. It's unknown if that deal actually came up from McAvoy's camp.
Has McAvoy proven himself worthy of such an extension? He has if you base it solely on his last six games. He's scored five points, including game-winning goals on Monday in San Jose and Saturday in Los Angeles. He's also dished out 18 hits and generally been a force in all three zones.
McAvoy's career trajectory still points toward franchise defenseman/all-around star status. But Ekblad's contract with the Panthers is still a major outlier, which ostensibly is making it hard for Bruins GM Don Sweeney to reach that threshold. McAvoy would just need to top David Krejci's $7.25 million AAV to become the Bruins' highest-paid player.
Shinzawa notes several other extensions signed by other talented young defensemen that are more in the $5-6 million range annually. Former 2013 first-round pick Shea Theodore, for instance, just signed for seven years and $5.2 million AAV with the Vegas Golden Knights in September.
Shinzawa's idea is that the Bruins could instead use Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million AAV) as their annual limit for McAvoy. In addition, Auston Matthews' massive five-year extension with the Maple Leafs opens up the possibility for a player like McAvoy to sign for less than the maximum eight years.
Would five years and $34 million ($6.8 million annually) get it done for McAvoy and the B's? It would be a fair AAV for a player who hasn't quite reached his full potential - or, more importantly, proven he can make it through a full NHL season without a long-term injury. But a deal like this would also give McAvoy the opportunity to cash in with an even bigger extension when he's squarely in his prime at age 26 (and hopefully won a Stanley Cup by then).
The Bruins reportedly reopened extension talks with McAvoy, who would be a restricted free agent after the season, back in October. That McAvoy turned down an offer in the offseason isn't necessarily a sign of trouble, but it certainly appears that the two sides need more time to reach common ground and it won't be easy.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].