Could Charlie McAvoy Actually Play In The NHL This Season?

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins are likely to have Charlie McAvoy in the lineup on Saturday. The Providence Bruins, that is.

McAvoy, the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and the top prospect in the Bruins organization, has agreed to an ATO with the AHL club and will join them this weekend. According to NESN’s Sarah Davis, McAvoy is expected to practice with Providence on Thursday and Friday and be in the lineup for the Baby B’s on Saturday.

But what about the NHL club? Couldn’t the Bruins use McAvoy’s talent right now?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple right now. For most players on ATOs, it would take 10 games played at the NHL level to use up the first year of their entry-level contracts. But McAvoy’s December 21 birthday, for reasons I will not bore you with right now, complicates that matter. If the Boston Bruins bring up McAvoy to play even one game down the stretch of the regular season, it would burn through the entire first year of his entry-level contract with the team. McAvoy would only be under contract for two full seasons before becoming a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019.

Still, that doesn’t mean that the chances of McAvoy getting the call-up to the NHL are necessarily dead.

The Boston Globe’s Kevin-Paul Dupont tweeted on Wednesday to “look for” McAvoy to play at least one game with the Boston club and burn that first year.

It’s speculation on Dupont’s part, but it’s not totally baseless; Boston GM Don Sweeney told reporters on Wednesday that he believes McAvoy could play in the NHL right now if the team sees fit.

“[McAvoy] has the attributes to be able to play NHL games right now, absolutely,” said Sweeney. “Charlie’s got an outgoing personality, embraces the expectations, but I think he’ll acclimate himself [in Providence].”

Sweeney never fully dismissed the idea of McAvoy joining the NHL club for the stretch run and perhaps even the playoffs (if they make it in), so he left that door open a little bit on Wednesday. It doesn’t really make sense to burn the first year of McAvoy’s ELC, unless the team is that confident that he will sign long-term regardless of when his rookie deal kicks in – and that he would be that much better than what they have right now at the back end of the Bruins’ depth chart.

Adding McAvoy to the NHL club might make sense this season if the Bruins were looking to contend for a Stanley Cup. They may feel that McAvoy, sort of like Torey Krug in 2013, could give the team that much of a boost in the playoffs. But for a team that’s intensely battling just to get one of the last two playoff seeds that are up for grabs, it probably makes more sense to just keep McAvoy in Providence until next year.

What do you think? Vote below.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.

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