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Bruins confident Charlie McAvoy can contribute soon

Defenseman's heart is in Boston after growing up as Rangers fan

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- It didn't take long after defenseman Charlie McAvoy was selected by the Boston Bruins with the 14th pick in the 2016 NHL Draft to find out the type of scrutiny that comes with being a high choice.

He was still fulfilling his post-draft media obligations when questions arose about a tweet someone dug out of McAvoy's timeline.

"I hate the bruins [sic] so much," the tweet read.

McAvoy was asked if he had sent that tweet. He said he hadn't even touched his phone since Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs called his name from the stage at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. Upon closer examination, the timestamp on the tweet was May 21, 2013. That night, the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round, and a 15-year-old McAvoy was a little disappointed his beloved Rangers had fallen behind 3-0 in the series.

Video: Bruins kick off 10th annual Development Camp

Now 18, the Long Beach, N.Y., native handled the brief controversy with aplomb.

"We laughed it off," McAvoy said during Bruins development camp at Ristuccia Arena. "Because that's what it is, it's funny. Anyone who can't really get past the fact that when I was [15] I was a Rangers fan, then I don't even know what to tell them.

"My heart is with the Bruins now. I'm die-hard Bruins. These are the people that had faith in me and wanted me to be a part of the organization. It's obvious why I'm a Bruins fan now."

The feeling is mutual. Last season, as the youngest player in NCAA Division I men's hockey, McAvoy thrived with 25 points in 37 games as a Boston University freshman. He gained international experience by representing the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship and later was selected to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team.

The 6-foot, 207-pound right-handed shot was a perfect fit for the Bruins' needs when the 14th pick came up because of his proximity to the organization and his skill set for a franchise looking to shore up its defense for the near and distant future.

Video: Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney on drafting McAvoy

"He's wide, he can really skate. He's an effortless skater," Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said. "He's the type of D-man that you hope is going to be able to play 26, 27 minutes a night. That's what he looks like. Even watching him in college last year, he has no problem playing a lot ice time. So that's important."

Positive sentiments about McAvoy were echoed by his former BU defense partner Matt Grzelcyk, who was a third-round pick (No. 85) by the Bruins in 2012 and turned pro after his senior season. The two were reunited during development camp.

"He's a real mature kid for his age," Grzelcyk said. "Obviously he was the youngest player in college hockey last year. He's got a real wide base to him. He's tough to get the puck from. I think he really handled himself well at BU"

McAvoy is scheduled to be back at BU this season. Although he might not be on a four-year plan, he sees how the college game helped Grzelcyk develop and wants to emulate the former captain. McAvoy will have a chance to pick up some of the leadership slack left by Grzelcyk's departure.

McAvoy might soon be reunited with Grzelcyk in the pros; the Bruins defense is in a transition period and there will be a lot of change over the next several seasons. Boston traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton prior to the 2015 draft and bought out Dennis Seidenberg in June. Torey Krug recently was re-signed for four seasons, but Zdeno Chara has two years remaining on his contract and John-Michael Liles, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow are signed through this season.

Video: 14th overall pick Charlie McAvoy on joining Bruins

McAvoy is one of the higher-profile potential replacements, and he's looking forward to developing at the right pace to fill the void.

"You see what the team needs and within the Bruins organization, I think that's a priority reason they drafted me because they think I'll fill a need when the time's right," McAvoy said. "And that's not really a pressure thing for me, that's just an excitement thing. That's what I'm working for, to continue to grow and get better and to win that spot."

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