Bruins president Cam Neely may have spilled the beans Wednesday afternoon.
Meeting (via Zoom) with the assembled media ahead of the start of the 2021-22 season, Neely was asked about the status of pending restricted free agent Charlie McAvoy, who is due an absolute boatload of money between now and the start of the 2022-23 season, and seemed to indicate that a deal was around the corner.
“Don [Sweeney] and Evan [Gold] have been working with Charlie’s camp the last couple of days,” Neely revealed. “My hopes are we’ll see something here in short order, but you never know until it’s signed on the dotted line.”
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, meanwhile, was quick to say that while they had not heard what Neely said, that ‘nothing was imminent’ on the McAvoy front.
The sooner the better is the simple philosophy when it comes to McAvoy. Not only has this been The Year of the Defenseman at the negotiating table, McAvoy is coming off a fifth-place Norris Trophy finish, and is slated to quarterback the Bruins’ top, mega-loaded power-play unit. Waiting may only drive up McAvoy’s price.
This also isn’t the first time that this front office have entered the year with a franchise defenseman in a contract year. The sour taste and ending of the Dougie Hamilton situation naturally lingers. But not to Neely, who thinks that McAvoy is a totally different breed and someone who is built for Boston.
“I haven’t heard any indication that Charlie wouldn’t want to play here for his whole career,” said Neely. “So that’s what we’re looking towards and hopefully we can get something done that gives him an opportunity to do just that. I think Charlie has embraced Boston. He went to college here, I think he likes the city, loves the sports environment, loves our fanbase. Playing in front of a packed house every night is certainly something special.”
Where McAvoy and the Bruins land is an incredibly interesting discussion, as the Bruins have routinely been able to retain their core pieces at under market value. In addition to their entire first line being signed for less than $20 million, the Bruins have also been able to retain Taylor Hall and Brandon Carlo at rates that maintained the club’s financial flexibility.
“I think in the past, we’ve been very fair and honest with our players when we negotiate with them,” Neely said. “It’s not about trying to ‘win’ anything, it’s about trying to land at the right spot where both sides are very happy and that’s what we hope to do with Charlie.”
And based on that bean-spillage from the B’s president, sounds like a matter of when, not if.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.