Boston Bruins: Charlie McAvoy living up to his new status as go-to guy

Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Charlie McAvoy #73 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Charlie McAvoy is handling his new duties for the Boston Bruins with ease.

Following what was a rough and sea-changing offseason for the Boston Bruins with Captain and franchise icon Zdeno Chara and power play expert Torey Krug both leaving in Free Agency, Charlie McAvoy all of a sudden became the young face of this blueline unit.

It was quite the change in role for McAvoy who, at the age of 23-years-old, is only just entering his fourth season in the National Hockey League and is still very much cutting his teeth in the game and learning his craft.

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However, the Bruins needed someone to step up after losing two huge cornerstone pieces and, while still a small sample size, McAvoy has handled the transition with ease so far and he looks to be on his way to becoming the next great defenseman in the rich history of this storied franchise.

That was always the hope for the Long Beach native who, drafted with the 14th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the B’s, burst on to the NHL scene in 2016-17 when he made his NHL debut in the postseason, recording three assists in six games. McAvoy flashed his elite potential in those six games and logged a whopping 26:12 minutes of total ice time, which is unheard of for a rookie let alone for one who wasn’t even battle-tested in the regular-season yet.

That was and is how highly Charlie McAvoy is thought of by General Manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the Boston Bruins front office and ownership, though, and that’s a big factor in why they didn’t go out and aggressively pursue a replacement for either Zdeno Chara or Torey Krug via Free Agency or the trade market, instead opting to put their faith in their young stud to help lead this team and take that next giant leap in his development.

Charlie McAvoy (73)
Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73). Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Charlie McAvoy slowly morphing into franchise blueliner for the Boston Bruins

Heading into the 2020-21 NHL season with a blueline boasting an average age of just 26 – with veterans Kevan Miller and John Moore the oldest at 33 and 30 respectively – there was a lot of pressure on the young shoulders of Charlie McAvoy to carry the burden and really step up to the plate for the Boston Bruins.

It is a good job, then, that the 6-foot-0, 208 pounds defenseman has broad shoulders and he’s not only adapted well to his new role, but he has also absolutely thrived and played a huge role in the Bruins starting the year 7-1-2 and sitting atop the East Division.

He already has nine points 9 (1 G, 8 A) on the year in 10 games, and he could well get near or even surpass his joint career-high of 32 points (5 G, 27 A) if he keeps up on this current pace. McCoy also has three assists on the power play and is playing a bigger role on the man advantage with Torey Krug now a member of the St. Louis Blues.

Not only that but McAvoy has a 57.0% CF% and a 55.9% oZS%, an OPS of 0.7 and he’s been a big presence in the offensive zone, jumping up to join the rush and making big plays at big moments in the game. He moves the puck well and, I mean, look at this play from Boston’s 4-3 OT win over the Philadelphia Flyers last night, getting the puck straight from the opening faceoff, looking up and then springing a superb breakout pass to David Pastrnak who produced a sublime play to light the lamp just 12 seconds into the contest.

McAvoy’s playmaking has certainly improved and he will be expected to make the jump to being a consistent 50-point blueliner now that he’s the go-to-guy, but he’s also going to be leaned on to be just as important in his own zone. It is a good job then that the 23-year-old is up to the task and he has certainly provided the kind of physicality that some feared had gone out the door with Chara and Krug.

Through 10 games McAvoy has recorded 15 blocked shots, laid the body on 12 times and had four Takeaways, while he’s already an elite shutdown defenseman who can match up incredibly well against other team’s top lines and top players, he can hit like an absolute train and he’s incredibly tenacious with and without the puck, while he’s currently logging a monster 24:27 of ATOI, proving that he is the main guy on the backend for the Bruins now and he’s certainly playing like one.

Granted, there has been the odd mistake, including a play on Wednesday when McAvoy lost the puck in the neutral zone which led to a two-on-one odd-man rush which was finished by Philadelphia Flyers forward Joel Farabee. However, even the best make mistakes and have off-nights but, overall, McAvoy has been a picture of consistency for the B’s and he’s relished the increase in his responsibility.

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There were worries over this Boston Bruins team heading into this season, mainly because of their offseason losses and their young blueline unit, but Charlie McAvoy has ensured that those worries were premature with his calm, impressive play at both ends of the ice and his ability to step up, elevate his game and become the new face of the defense has meant that the B’s have hardly missed a beat and his continued development and progress should only mean that this team remains a legitimate Stanley Cup contender given that they now have their next franchise defenseman in place and ready to roll.