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The World Junior Championship Is Charlie McAvoy's Coming-Out Party

After being handed an assistant captain role on Team USA, the next few weeks are Charlie McAvoy's chance to announce himself to the NHL - and the world

If you've been around Boston hockey the past year or so, you can't fail to have noticed the B's next great defensive draft hope from the 2016 draft.

Charlie McAvoy, who plays his college hockey for the Boston University Terriers and was selected 14th overall in June by the B's, is already drawing hopes that he can step into the NHL sooner rather than later, particularly after the way that his predecessor from 2015, Brandon Carlo, has quickly become one of the shining lights of the B's so far in a troubled first half of the season for the Bruins.

He's a player whose talent is obvious - we raved about his skating and offensive ability in our draft profile of the 19-year-old in the run up to the 2016 pick. The one note of caution that we sounded then was that he might be more of a long-term prospect - the kind of thing that would be expected of a freshman in college.

In his sophomore year, though, with the responsibility of a first-line defensive slot continuing to be given to him (although his partner this time is freshman and Team USA team-mate/Blackhawks prospect Chad Krys and not current Bruin Matt Grzelcyk) McAvoy is continuing to shine - he's fourth on the team in scoring with 2+11 (one off his goal total from last season and well on track to match his assist total - he's gone from being the mentored to the mentor without skipping a beat so far.

This is something that's clearly been noticed by the Team USA brain trust - McAvoy has been entrusted with an A for his country despite being one of the younger players on a very strong Team USA, and can expect to play the same key role for his country that he does for his university in Toronto and Montreal in the coming weeks.

McAvoy played for USA at the WJC last year, too, but that saw him very much at the bottom of the heap as one of the depth players behind players like Carlo and Zach Werenski - both of whom are having excellent NHL seasons this year. This year he is considered to be one of the key players on the roster - one of the players upon whom the USA coaches are pinning the responsibility of leading the team.

In short, this is the tournament when Charlie McAvoy is being placed upon center stage not just in the NCAA, but in the world of hockey, as one of the key players in the biggest tournament for his age group in the world. The eyes of the hockey world will be upon him in a way they've never been before.

Make no mistake, this will be a US team that is expected to do very well in the competition - it's a young, hungry team with players like McAvoy, Kieffer Bellows and Clayton Keller expected to build on their experience of last year and provide a real threat to team Canada in the race for the gold medal. McAvoy will likely carry the lions' share of the load driving the team forward from the blueline as well as being tasked with shutting down the opposition's strongest forwards, just as he is in the NCAA, but on an even bigger stage.

In that respect, with the lights brighter than the NCAA and being one of the key defenders of the prestige of his country, this is a logical progression for the Long Beach native. This year will arguably be the one where he announces himself beyond the circles of US college hockey and to the wider hockey world, in much the same way Zach Werenski did last year.

All of US will be watching closely, but especially in New England, where the NHL team is desperate for rays of sunshine on a blue-line that is experiencing a tricky transition between the ending of one era and the beginning of another.

If all goes to plan, McAvoy will be one of the standard bearers of the next generation for the Bruins, and this World Juniors is where he will take up the flag.

We shall see over the next week or two.