By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After a quiet summer and four days into training camp, the Bruins and Charlie McAvoy have finally struck a deal, as the team has signed McAvoy to a three-year deal with a $4.9 million average annual value, the team confirmed Sunday. The story was first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie.
The deal is comparable to the contract restricted free agent Zach Werenski signed with the Blue Jackets early last week, and given Boston's cap crunch and the B's preferences, that deal always made sense as the best option for both sides.
Sweeney's team is currently limited financially, which made paying McAvoy his market value on a long-term deal nearly impossible, especially with so many other decisions looming over the club's head between now and 2020 training camp. Assuming they don't make some downright disastrous decisions between now and McAvoy's next RFA year, the Bruins should be in a fine position to give McAvoy a long-term deal upon the expiration of this new deal.
This deal also allows McAvoy to bet on himself, really, with the potential to turn what would have been a $6.5 million per year long-term deal into a $7.5 to $9 million per year contract (if not more) should he continue to develop into the player most believe he can be as the heir apparent to Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and the face of the Boston blue line. And similar to Werenski's contract in Columbus, the Bruins have structured the third year of McAvoy's contract so that a fourth year can be created out of a $7.3 million qualifying offer, which could turn McAvoy's deal into a four-year deal, as unlikely a path as that would appear to be for both sides given their relationship to date.
It's a calculated risk, of course, but making sure that McAvoy remained a restricted free agent at the end of his second deal was always something of the utmost importance to Sweeney and the Bruins. And if everything plays out the way both parties want it to (McAvoy has made it known again and again that his preference is to be with the Bruins and in Boston for his career), you won't see that fourth-year qualifying offer-and-walk year actually play out. That's because the Bruins will have one more season of restricted free agency (this is the biggest difference between the McAvoy and the Werenski deal) to play with even if the sides go with a qualifying offer approach in Year 4.
Drafted with the 14th overall pick in 2016, McAvoy made his NHL debut during the team's first-round showdown with the Senators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and has played top-pairing minutes ever since breaking into the league. He scored seven goals and 32 points in his rookie season (both career-bests through his first two NHL seasons), and averaged a career-best 22:10 in 54 games for the Bruins last year. Injuries have been a slight concern for McAvoy through his first two NHL seasons, though, having missed 46 games due to injuries since the start of the 2017 season.
But McAvoy certainly proved his worth and showed everybody what he could be for this franchise during the Black and Gold's 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final, as McAvoy tallied two goals and eight points and logged at least 23 minutes in 18 of his 23 games for the Bruins, and emerged as Bruce Cassidy's go-to defender.
With McAvoy officially signed and in the fold at $4.9 million per year for the next three seasons, the Bruins have just over $3 million in projected cap space left to sign defenseman Brandon Carlo.