Coming in at 18 on the Nation Network’s prospect ranking is NCAA defenseman Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy combines strong skating, high hockey IQ, and superb vision to create a tantalizing package for a draft eligible defenseman.
After the jump we’ll take a look at McAvoy as a player with some risk, but also a great amount of upside.
- Age: 18, 1997-12-21
- Birthplace: Long Beach, NY, USA
- Frame: 6’0″ 205 lbs.
- Position: D
- Handedness: R
- Draft Year Team: Boston University
- Accomplishments/Awards: NCAA (Hockey East) All-Rookie Team U20 WJC Bronze Medal
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McAvoy is an offensive defenseman at heart, and he excels when he has the puck on his stick. He skates very well and shows a lot of ability to evade pressure and lead a rush. He’s a pretty effective power-play quarterback, with above-average or better hands and vision. Defensively, he’ll have good and bad days. He’s not spectacular at checking good players or playing the body with force, and he is prone to brain cramps in his positioning and decision-making. He won’t be leaned on as the first guy over the boards to kill a penalty, but it’s very possible he could skate top-four minutes at his peak.
McAvoy is built for the modern game – thick, explosive and assertive. He’s a strong skater with excellent balance and superior mobility both up and across the ice. McAvoy loves to join the rush and can read a play as good as any of his draft-eligible peers – something we saw last year as a defenseman on Team USA.
McAvoy can lead the rush up ice and find seams through defenders when penetrating the zone with ease. McAvoy is superb in transition, able to retrieve the puck quickly, and can change the flow of play in an instant, but he can still be caught out of position trying to generate scoring chances. He has a hard and accurate slap shot from the point, and a nifty wrister, as well being capable of spotting teammates with laser precision passes right on the tape.
A product of the US NTDP system, McAvoy left this season to begin his NCAA career as a 17 year old at Boston University. While a December ’97 birthday will make him one of the older first time eligible’s in the draft, in fact he was the youngest skater in the NCAA this year. There are some may that consider him slightly undersized at six feet, but McAvoy has a thick and sturdy build that should have no troubles holding up to the rigors of a long hockey season.
McAvoy is a strong skater with good balance and solid edge work, he’s adept and weaving through traffic while skating the puck in on offense, or lining up opposing forwards for hits in his own zone. While he possesses a heavy and accurate shot, where McAvoy really stands out is in his vision and passing ability. Often described as steady or calm, McAvoy’s ability to process the game at high speed allows him to slow things down to help make sure he can make the correct play when he has the puck on his stick. Where McAvoy is lacking right now is in consistency and confidence, while some games he can look like a sure fire top-10 pick, other times small mistakes can snowball into bigger ones and lead to entire games worth of relatively poor performance. McAvoy also needs to work on finding better areas to shoot from, though his low goal numbers can be at least partially attributed to bad luck as he had a very low shooting percentage.
McAvoy bounced around pairings early in the season at Boston University before finding a regular partner in Bruins draft pick and BU senior Matt Grzelcyk. Together they formed a potent offensive defense pairing that was relied on to play heavy minutes. He was also selected as the 2nd youngest member of team USA’s bronze medal winning team at the WJC’s and had a very strong showing there. McAvoy’s scoring this year was impressive, and doubly so at even strength. Comparing him to the two most recent high profile NCAA defenseman picks, Zach Werenski and Noah Hanifin, McAvoy produced at a very similar rate to both in all situations, and outproduced them by a fairly significant margin at 5 on 5. While his pGPS doesn’t look particularly favorable with only 23 of a decently large 80 player sample going on to be NHLers, those who did make it to the next level tended to be difference makers as his pGPS % of .4295 was the highest of any defensemen ranked in the Nation Network’s top 60.
McAvoy has all the tools necessary to become a top offensive defenseman at the NHL level. If he can improve on getting himself into situations to make use of his shot, with his skating and vision he should be able to work his way to being a top-4 defenseman. While he is solidly ranked in the first round, there is little consensus among scouts on where his final draft spot will lie, with some having him in the top 10 and some among the last five picks. When comparing his scoring to recent top-10 defense picks it certainly looks like he deserves to go in that range, but given the rankings we’ve been seeing, I expect McAvoy to go somewhere in the 10-20 range in the first round.
Nation Network Prospect Profiles
|Prospect Profile #19: Luke Kunin||Prospect Profile #20: Alex DeBrincat|
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