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McAvoy eager to earn full-time role with Bruins after playoff success

Rookie defenseman taking nothing for granted despite playing key role

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

BOSTON -- A player whose first six NHL games come in the Stanley Cup Playoffs grows up quickly.

But Charlie McAvoy knows his status with the Boston Bruins won't be different going into training camp in September just because he became their No. 2 defenseman during a six-game loss in the Eastern Conference First Round to the Ottawa Senators.

"I'm a rookie. I'm going into the year as a rookie," McAvoy said after playing in the Comm Ave Charity Classic on July 14 at Boston University, his alma mater. "I think I'm focusing on having the best training camp possible at the beginning of the year and just having a great season."

McAvoy had three assists and averaged 26:11 of ice time against the Senators after he left BU at the conclusion of his sophomore season. He also had two assists in four games with Providence of the American Hockey League.

"I think it was just great experience," he said. "I think I kind of learned how things are at the highest level. It was a small sample size. Next year it'll be a lot bigger, but I think overall I took a lot of good things out of it."

After the Bruins lost to the Senators, the 19-year-old played eight games and had one assist for the United States at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. He said he took very little time off after the United States was eliminated in the quarterfinals before he got back into training to try to cement his role as a full-time NHL player.

Video: David Backes on his first season as a Boston Bruin

McAvoy was somewhat rushed to the NHL; the Bruins were missing four defensemen because of injuries during the playoffs. General manager Don Sweeney has spent the summer trying to strike a balance between having depth and competition, and providing an opportunity for younger players.

The Bruins lost defenseman Colin Miller to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft and signed veteran defenseman Paul Postma as an unrestricted free agent from the Winnipeg Jets on July 1. Boston has been less active since then, partly because it's negotiating contracts with restricted free agent forwards David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner and partly because it wants prospects into the lineup.

"I don't think anybody really used the word 'giving' spots to anyone around here. I think everybody's going to earn their opportunity, their ice time," Sweeney said. "There are potential opportunities that exist, and I'd like our players internally to step forward and grab them."

That talk about giving younger players a strong chance to make an impact in the NHL pleased McAvoy.

"I think that Donnie always is going to put the team in the best position to have success. The way he talks about being committed to the younger guys, that's something that's really special to hear," McAvoy said. "You get excited if you're a young guy like me hearing something like that and knowing what he's committed. You definitely want to put your best foot forward and earn your spot out of camp. Going into it knowing that you're going to get every opportunity is awesome."

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