TORONTO -- Ask Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy what he remembers about this past spring and a broad smile comes over his face.
At age 19, McAvoy was thrust into the Stanley Cup Playoffs less than two weeks after turning pro after the end of his sophomore season at Boston University, and he acquitted himself well during Boston's six-game loss to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference First Round.
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Yet as he prepares for the 2017-18 season, McAvoy knows what he did in the spring counts for very little.
"My goal right now is just to have a great camp. If I play the way that I can, I have a feeling I'll end up right where I want to be," McAvoy said Monday at the NHLPA Rookie Showcase. "There's not much else to think about, I'm not going to concern myself with any sort of crazy expectations. I'm just going to play my game, stick to what I know and I'll be hopefully playing in the NHL."
His professional resume heading into camp next month may be limited, but it's impressive.
McAvoy, taken No. 14 by the Bruins in the 2016 NHL Draft, reported to Providence of the American Hockey League after signing with Boston and had an assist in his professional debut on April 1. He played three more games in the AHL, then was unexpectedly thrust into the Stanley Cup Playoffs after injuries left the Bruins thin on defense. He dressed for the series opener against Ottawa and played all six games, finishing with three assists.
"What a whirlwind, what an experience," McAvoy said. "I kind of didn't forecast that coming, but I'm very thankful for the opportunity that I got. It presented itself and I took the opportunity I had and ran with it and just tried to play as good as possible. It was an amazing experience for me to familiarize myself with the Bruins' organization and get in there to get my feet wet."
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He did more than just get his feet wet. McAvoy played 24:11 in his NHL debut and averaged 26:12 of ice time in the series, second only to Zdeno Chara's 28:46.
McAvoy said his surprise introduction to the NHL during the most intense time of the season was a good learning experience, showing him what aspects of his game he needs to improve to become a full-time NHL defenseman.
"It's the best league and everybody knows how challenging it is to play in the NHL," he said. "I noticed that guys' sticks are much better at that level than they are in college as far as getting passes through. Somebody always seems to get a stick on it or tip it."
McAvoy said his quick transition to the NHL was manageable because of how structured he found the style of play compared with college hockey. However, he also learned the consequences of making a poor play are magnified.
"I noticed there is a lot of control," McAvoy said. "It's a controlled game and the players are so elite you can always bank on guys being in the right spot, but you also realize guys can capitalize on mistakes just like that. You can't hide if you make a mistake in the NHL; it'll probably end up in your net."
As he prepares for his first full pro season, McAvoy said he's content with his decision to leave Boston University with two years of eligibility remaining. He was a communications major and plans to complete his degree by taking online classes.
"A lot went into it," McAvoy said of the decision to leave school. "I discussed it with my family and came to the conclusion that it was time for me to make the jump, and I felt confident in my ability to do so. I'm pleased with my decision. It was tough leaving behind the guys at BU; I think the world of them and had truly two of the best years of my life being a part of that program."