The 2018-2019 NHL season is rapidly coming to a close. The Boston Bruins have clinched the Eastern Conference and are four wins away from winning the Stanley Cup. This would be their first time in eight years and the seventh time in franchise history. The Cup is close to coming back to Boston. No matter what happens, the off-season is looming in the near-future, and with it contract negotiations.
One of the biggest off-season moves for the Bruins is extending defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this year. McAvoy has been a reliable staple on the blue line lately, partnered with Zdeno Chara. He recently turned down a long-term offer by the Bruins, suspected to be due to recent offers to similar players such as defenseman Esa Lindell. Lindell was extended by the Dallas Stars on a 6 year, $34.8 million contract, giving him $5.8 million a year. He scored 11 goals this season and put up 32 points. Making that more enticing is his youth. Lindell is only 25. McAvoy wants a similar contract and why not? The kid’s young with plenty of potential that he’s sure to live up to.
Charlie McAvoy was an integral part of the USA team in the 2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship. He received the Player of the Game honor in their gold-medal game win. McAvoy’s also got youth on his side, at 21 years-old, and his stats are impressive this season. He’s missed 28 games due to a concussion, a lower-body injury, and a one-game suspension. Despite that, he has 8 goals and 35 points thus far. McAvoy has the ability to become a superstar on an already star-studded Bruins roster.
Salary Cap Era
Unfortunately, we live in the salary cap era. Dallas can afford to pay Lindell $34.8 million over 6 years because they have the cap space. The Bruins aren’t as fortunate. GM Don Sweeney is still filling the hole that was dug by former GM Peter Chiarelli. McAvoy would be in the upper-echelon pay scale of Bruins players with a contract similar to Lindell’s. He’s a great defenseman who looks to only get better, but is he worth paying as much or more than someone like David Pastrnak? More to the point, is he worth paying so much against the cap that the Bruins can’t afford to keep some of their other top-tier players for much longer? The Chicago Blackhawks did that a few seasons ago with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and it hurt the team.
What Can Be Done
One potential solution is extending the time on the contract. An amount such as $30 million over four years is unrealistic, but over six or seven years could be manageable. It comes down to McAvoy and what he’s willing to accept versus what he feels he’s worth. Would he be willing to take a pay cut to stay in Boston? Furthermore, what happens if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup? The way McAvoy plays combined with his ice time would be factors in that win, giving him a much larger bargaining chip. However, the salary cap is ruthless and inflexible. Only time will tell but this will certainly be an interesting and potentially exciting off-season.