It always seems like contract stalemates end abruptly. It’s a silly thing to think, of course, because there’s plenty of machinations going on behind the seems, slowly building up to a new deal.
Still, with the signings of Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, things happened quickly. There were barely whispers all summer, aside from “we’ll get it done.”
This weekend, Bob McKenzie mentioned that talks with McAvoy were progressing, and his deal was announced a few hours later. Carlo’s contract came a day or so later, and here we are.
In the span of a couple of days, the Bruins went from having two big holes in their roster to being in pretty good shape for the regular season.
So, how did Don Sweeney do?
Grading the Charlie McAvoy contract
There’s really not a ton to dislike about Charlie McAvoy’s new deal. The deal:
- Carries a reasonable cap hit
- Left the Bruins with some cap flexibility
- Keeps McAvoy’s rights restricted when it ends
I mean...what more can you ask for?
My preference from the beginning would have been to skip the bridge and sign McAvoy long-term. However, that never made a ton of sense for either side.
For the Bruins, signing McAvoy to a long-term deal would have required doing some gymnastics with the current roster to fit that presumably larger number under the salary cap.
For McAvoy, he would have been locking himself into a number that would probably have looked a little high for now but looked like a steal in a few years if he continues to progress.
Bridge deals are “prove it” deals for both sides, and in this case, I guess it made just too much sense to build a bridge, rather than get over it.
My one concern about this contract is what McAvoy’s number is going to look like when this contract is up. The bridge is likely to cost the Bruins a few million per season once this contract is up, and Don Sweeney will end up paying for the cap mismanagement that made a long-term deal impossible.
Still, given the overall roster situation, I’m not sure the team really had any other choice.
Grading the Brandon Carlo contract
I’m still trying to decide how I really feel about the Carlo deal. On the surface, it’s great: he’s back in the fold at a reasonable number. No harm done.
However, I can’t help but wonder if the Bruins should have tried to make this deal a bit longer. The same anti-length arguments made for McAvoy could be made for Carlo: handcuffs the team cap-wise, makes things harder now, etc.
But with Carlo, you likely would have been able to add a few years to the end of the contract without raising the overall number too much. With McAvoy, he projects to be too much of a game-breaking defenseman to really tie himself to a long-term deal right now. If he continues to trend in the direction he’s been going, he’ll be signing a monster deal in a few years.
For Carlo, a longer-term deal might have been more of a risk, but it also would have carried with it a bigger reward.
Carlo isn’t really expected to be the same level of defenseman as McAvoy, which isn’t to say he isn’t expected to be good. Carlo projects to be a reliable defenseman who can be counted on in his own zone, but isn’t going to do much offensively.
Locking in a 22-year-old, 6’ 5” defenseman who is already pretty good is a decent idea in and of itself, but if you think Carlo still has some upside in his game, it becomes a great idea.
Say, for example, that Carlo’s defensive game remains steady, but he finds a way to add a little offense (or zone exits, transition game, etc.) to his game. All of a sudden, that slightly bigger number looks like a bargain in a couple of years.
Still, it’s easy to “what if?” all of these contracts. You could do the same the other way: what if you locked Carlo in and he regressed?
But in this case, the risk of regression was less than the reward that would come from continued improvement. If there’s one thing to nitpick, it’d be the length of the Carlo deal.
On the whole, however? Sweeney had himself a good couple of days.
Leave your grade for each contract in the comments!