With the graduation of super collegian Jack Eichel to the Buffalo Sabres, the BU campus is hinging on it’s returning depth and 2016 freshman class to make sure it’s 2014-2015 puck power isn’t completely lost in 2015-2016. The #3 ranked group in the Preseason USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll received 6 first place votes as a result of returning 15/18 top scorers from last year.
Amongst an incoming crowd of first years that includes two 2nd round 2015 NHL Draft picks, a top USHL forward, and a top AJHL defender, is a 2016 NHL Draft eligible poised to bring humbled excitement to the Terrier’s blueline: Charlie McAvoy.
The Long Beach, NY native isn’t getting nearly the amount of praise a defender with his resume and experience usually does. In his pre-draft year, McAvoy put up 40 in 63GP for USDP U18. By comparison, Noah Hanifin [2015 #5] had 13 in 14GP, and Zach Werenski [2015 #8] had 1 in 4GP, meaning in their pre-draft years neither came close to touching the amount of ice McAvoy experienced. Two years prior to this draft year, McAvoy played against USHL’ers for a full slate while Hanifin played HS’ers and Werenski played HPHL U18’s. McAvoy is an advanced prospect and has a very good shot of atleast matching Zach Werenski’s draft position.
In this weekend’s exhibition game vs. Acadia, McAvoy played RD on the top pairing with SO Brandon Hickey. With an injury to Captain and top D, SR Matt Grzelcyk, and a scratched SO Brandon Fortunato, McAvoy was given a lot of rope and looked very comfortable stepping into a high-pressure role. His overall hockey athleticism is the first thing you notice, as all of his movements and reactions are quick and powered by smooth skating. Listed at 6’1’’ 211, he doesn’t have any concerns with size although he did lose his balance a few times. With a redesigned forward blueprint, McAvoy was a safety net of hands, vision, and maturity keeping plays alive in the offensive zone and moving the puck smartly in his own. The cherry on top during his impressive debut was his zone entry rush command [2x] where he did not look like a freshman at all. Even with the aforementioned D returning, McAvoy looks poised to keep a stranglehold on a top 4 roster spot throughout the year.
Because high IQ defenders carry misperceptions of their top ends, Charlie McAvoy is a wildcard offensively whose talent has been undersold and will spend the next few years flourishing his tools, and altering his perception considerably. For now, the hockey world shouldn’t dismiss New England’s next freshman draft eligible destined for the top 10 just because they lost last year’s.