Charlie McAvoy in 2022
Key stats: 78GP, 10G, 46A, 56PTS
Other stats: 24:38 ATOI, 56.6 CF% (5v5), 55.2 oZS% (5v5), 64.7 CF/60 (5v5)
Reader rating: 9.1
Writer rating: 9.3
When the Bruins drafted Charlie McAvoy back in 2016, the hope was that he’d blossom into the heir-apparent to Zdeno Chara for the Bruins’ #1 defenseman role.
No, he wasn’t expected to be a Chara clone - their games (and sizes) are too different for that to be realistic.
But the Bruins hoped he’d develop into a similarly game-changing, lights-out defenseman who could also chip in on offense.
And while the first few years of McAvoy’s career were great, last year was the season where the Bruins saw McAvoy take another step forward and put himself in the top tier of defensemen in the league.
The majority of every NHL game is played at even strength, so that’s obviously where your best players need to be your best players.
For McAvoy, just about every 5v5 metric you could ask for is (nearly) off the charts:
Something I learned yesterday. Charlie McAvoy is incredibly underrated. He might be the best play-driving defender in the NHL at evens and has been remarkably consistent.— Chace McCallum (@CMhockey66) July 25, 2022
He lacks powerplay production relative to other top defenders, but that's fine if your this good at 5v5 pic.twitter.com/IoLDsxA79g
If that one doesn’t do it for you, consider an even BIGGER CHART:
The knock on McAvoy from some is that he doesn’t produce enough on offense - which is ironic, given how recently NHL Awards voters refused to acknowledge offensive defensemen (now they’re all the rage).
As Chace in the Tweet above mentions, his power play production isn’t as “Tier 1” as you might like it to be, but it’s also coming around: McAvoy had 4 power play goals this year, compared to 5 in his NHL career prior to this year.
(His 17 power play assists last season also eclipsed his previous career total.)
Plus, you can excuse less production on the power play when you’re top class everywhere else.
To illustrate that point, McAvoy’s 6.9 defensive point shares (estimate of points contributed by a player due to his defense) was the highest in the entire league last year, per HockeyReference.
(Lest you think that’s a blip, he was third in the league in 2021.)
As his play continues to improve, the accolades are starting to come too: after finishing fifth in Norris Trophy voting in 2021, McAvoy was fourth in 2022.
There’s little reason to believe he won’t continue to climb those rankings in the years to come.
McAvoy is only 24. He’s signed to reasonable long-term contract that will likely look like a bargain within a year or two. There’s little reason to believe his game won’t continue to develop at a similar pace as the last couple of seasons.
As was the case during the Chara years, you know what you’re getting from McAvoy night in, night out.
We’re all in for a treat over the next few seasons.