McAvoy, Bruins near contract extension, president says

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Charlie McAvoy and the Boston Bruins are closing in on a contract extension, president Cam Neely said Wednesday.

“We’re going to hopefully get Charlie McAvoy done here shortly. … (general manager) Don (Sweeney) and (assistant GM) Evan (Gold) have been working with Charlie’s camp the last couple of days,” Neely said. “So my hopes are we’ll see something here in short order, but you never know until it’s signed on the dotted line.”

The 23-year-old defenseman can be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. He signed a three-year, $14.7 million contract with the Bruins on Sept. 15, 2019.

Sweeney, though, said he was less definitive on McAvoy’s contract talks.

“There’s nothing imminent,” he said. “But we’re hopeful. We continue to talk periodically with different players and the timing will present itself. We would dearly like to have Charlie as part of the organization for a long period of time. Hopefully it’s mutual, and that’s generally when deals come together.

“We value him, both as a player and as a person. He’s growing into a leadership role. He’s been included in that leadership group and hopefully that’s an indication that Charlie’s growing into the person, both as a leader and as a player, that we hoped he would be.”

McAvoy watched this offseason when several comparable NHL defensemen signed contracts, including Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars (eight years, $67.6 million), Seth Jones of the Chicago Blackhawks (eight years, $76 million), Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche (six years, $54 million), Dougie Hamilton of the New Jersey Devils (seven years, $63 million) and Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets (six years, $57.5 million).

“Just playing hockey, that’s it,” McAvoy said Sept. 25. “Obviously all those D-men, I’m very happy for them. I know quite a few of them, couldn’t be happier for them. They’re all very well deserved. But for me, just excited about this year, excited about the group we have.”

Video: NYR@BOS: McAvoy blasts one-timer for PPG in the 1st

McAvoy was tutored by Zdeno Chara early in his NHL career before the former Bruins captain agreed to a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals on Dec. 30, 2020. He finished fifth in voting for 2021 the Norris Trophy, given to the best defenseman in the NHL, after scoring 30 points (five goals, 25 assists) last season. He has 122 points (24 goals, 98 assists) in four NHL seasons, all with Boston. 

“I haven’t heard any indication that Charlie wouldn’t want to play here for his whole career,” Neely said. “So that’s what we’re looking towards and hopefully we can get something done that gives him an opportunity to do just that. 

“Charlie, he’s embraced Boston. He went to college here (Boston University). I think he likes the city, loves the sports environment, loves our fan base. Playing in front of a packed house every night is certainly something special. … I haven’t seen or heard anything from Charlie that gives me any reason why he wouldn’t want to play here as long as possible.”

McAvoy isn’t the only member of the Bruins with a contract expiring after this season. Captain Patrice Bergeron is a pending unrestricted free agent and said in September that he would not sign a new deal until the end of the season.

“I give ‘Bergy’ a ton of credit, which happens a lot around here, he wasn’t just jumping at an extension without really knowing if he was going to be able to commit the time and energy that he has to be the player that he is,” Neely said. “He’s played a lot of hockey. He’s had some significant injuries in his career. 

“So I think he really wants to, and rightfully so, see how he feels at the end of the year and see if he still has the passion and the drive to be the player that he’d like to be. We’re going to give him all that time and space as needed. I certainly would love to see him continue, but we’ll see where it goes.”

Neely said the Bruins haven’t ruled out the returns of goalie Tuukka Rask and forward David Krejci. Rask is an unrestricted free agent and rehabbing from offseason surgery. Krejci left the Bruins to return to his native Czech Republic and is playing for HC Olomouc. 

“We told them both that the door is open if they do decide to try and come back and then we’ll see where it goes from there,” Neely said. “But that remains to be seen for both of them. It really depends on where they’re at, both mentally and physically.”

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