Our 2016 NHL Draft prospect profile series continues today with talented defensemen, Charles McAvoy from Boston University. The USNTDP product is coming off of an impressive freshman season in college hockey and already has quality international experience on his resume. Let's take a look closer at McAvoy and see if he could make sense for the Devils if he's available at #11.
Who is Charles McAvoy?
Charles McAvoy (aka Charlie) was born on December 21, 1997, making him 18 years old. The Boston University website list the Long Beach, NY native as a 6'1, 211 lbs. right handed defensemen. As we can see from his Elite Prospects stats below, he spent part of his youth hockey with the New Jersey Rockets program before moving on to the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP). McAvoy has already completed his freshman season of college hockey with Boston University. He also has represented the US on the U17, U18, and U20 levels.
We'll get into McAvoy's skill-set down below, but it's clear from looking at his basic stats, that he's a defender whose able to contribute offensively. As a member of the New Jersey Rockets in 2012-13, he led defensemen in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (MetJHL) in goals (15), assists (39), and points (54) in 42 games. This would help him earn a spot in the prestigious USNTDP.
In 2013-14, McAvoy was 5th among U17 defenders in the USHL in points behind the likes of Noah Hanifin, Zach Werenski, and Ivan Provorov. McAvoy finished just behind Hanifin and Werenski in defensemen scoring on the USNTDP U17 team that season. He also won a Gold Medal with the USA U17 team in the U17 World Championship.
In 2014-15, McAvoy was nearly a point per game player with the USNTDP in USHL play, finishing with the 4th highest Pts/GP rate (0.83) among defensemen in the league. His 7 goals and 33 assists in 63 games with the USNTDP U18 team that season would lead the defensemen on that team. He also suited up for the USA U18 side that won a Gold Medal at the U18 World Junior Championship.
Last season was his freshman campaign with Boston University. Here's what Coach Quinn had to say about him prior to the season thanks to the Boston University website:
"Charlie has been an elite player for a long time. We expect him to make an immediate impact and play in all situations. He's got great skills and vision and he's a big, strong kid that skates well. One of the top freshman defensemen in college hockey."
McAvoy certainly made his presence known, appearing in 37 games with 3 goals and 22 assists. His 0.68 Pts/GP was 2nd among the defense, trailing Bruins prospect and team captain, senior Matt Grzelcyk. McAvoy averaged 1.84 SH/GP but shot at just 4.41%. He had a Goals Created number of 7.53 which was good for 0.20 per game. McAvoy earned Hockey East All-Rookie Team honors. He was also a member of the USA U20 squad that won a Bronze Medal at the WJC.
The Projection Project list his NHLe at 20 for last season. According to their model, he projects to have a 59% chance of becoming a regular NHL player. I have to admit that caught me a bit off guard but their system does seem to like defenders that can put up points. His fellow cohorts that have made the NHL include Rostislav Klesla, Dan Hamhuis, Carlo Colaiacovo, and Tim Gleason.
Where is McAvoy Ranked?
Below are the latest rankings that are publicly available from a handful of great sources: NHL Central Scouting, Hockey Prospect, ISS Hockey, Future Considerations, The Draft Analyst, McKeen's, and TSN:
|6 - NA
Defensemen can be hard to project and scouts will often have differing opinions. We see that reflected in the various rankings that McAvoy has across these outlets. While McAvoy appears to be well within reach for the Devils first selection, some could argue that he may be a bit of a reach at #11.
What Others Say About Charles McAvoy
Here is what Future Considerations had to say on McAvoy back in November of 2015:
McAvoy is a slick puck moving defender who sees the ice with elite vision and makes passes with soft touch. He is a very strong skater with outstanding pivots and edge work; able to skate with the puck out of pressure and start the rush. He drives deep into the offensive zone and glides around with his head up looking for his best options. He is a deadly in transition and a real weapon on the power play. Has a heavy shot and has the potential to be a big NHL point producer.
After reading this report, it's clear that he's very gifted offensively and has the tools to be an impact producer at the pro level if he can put it all together. I like reading that he is a strong skater and is able to utilize that aspect of his game to get out of pressure and advance the puck. So much of defending nowadays is recovering the puck in your own zone and transitioning it effectively down the ice. It seems like McAvoy is a player that does that well.
SBN College Hockey has plenty to say on McAvoy. First, here's a draft spotlight they did on him this past October which includes plenty of quotes from the player. We also learn that he grew up a New York Rangers fan and that he tries to model his game after Tyson Barrie. More recently, here is what they had to say on McAvoy when they ranked him #13 on their list of Top 100 NHL Prospects in the NCAA:
McAvoy is still an extremely raw prospect--something that should be expected with a young defenseman playing a tough position--but his raw tools and upside are really exciting.
He is a great skater with an explosive first step capable of getting up the ice to contribute offensively, and handles the puck very well. He also exhibits moments of struggle when he is caught being too aggressive with his positioning or being prone to bad turnovers, but those mistakes should be cleaned up with further development, leaving him as a player that could be a top four defenseman at the NHL level.
Once again McAvoy is praised for his skating and puckhandling. I'm not too surprised to read that a player with his talent level offensively can sometimes be caught out of position or committing turnovers. The good news is that he has plenty of time to correct those aspects of his game. This report does make it seem like he could be a bit risky of a pick, but the tools he possesses are enticing.
Here is what Brendan Ross of McKeen's Hockey had to say on McAvoy at the start of the season:
An easy-to-watch defender who competes hard, flashes fine offensive abilities and owns some fairly enticing pro skills. McAvoy owns fluid mobile, extremely efficient puck control and the confidence to operate as a prime distributor. Defensively, McAvoy is calculated in his approaches displaying advanced anticipation and timely gap closures.
While this report is a bit older than some of the others, I find the part mentioning his defense as being "calculated" interesting. This report suggests that he does a fine job defending when he's in defense mode. From the excerpts posted above, it seems like he mainly runs into trouble when he's over-aggressive going forward. It is encouraging to read that he can anticipate the play on defense and does well with his gap control.
Finally, here is Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports scouting report on McAvoy. It's a comprehensive article so I'm just going to highlight a few parts:
Charlie McAvoy moves the puck with a strong first pass. His slap shot though could use some work, as it lacks power compared to the other top defenders in this class. He does have an effective wrist and snap shot though, and a good release.
McAvoy has the potential to be a top pairing defender, and be used in all situations at the NHL level. He will need some time to continue to develop, and will likely head back to Boston University next year in order to continue to work on his defensive game. In terms of style, McAvoy is reminiscent of Drew Doughty. This is not a talent comparison though, just a stylistic one.
A strong first pass is a must for defensemen in the NHL so it is nice to read that McAvoy is already proficient in that aspect. I'm not worried about his slap shot or lack thereof as long as his wrist and snap shots are quality. McAvoy will have plenty of time to keep developing at Boston University before going pro.
A Little Video
Here is a Charlie McAvoy highlights package from The Draft Analyst:
In the Boston University section of the highlights package, look for #7. You can really see his transition game and offensive instincts. He does well around the 1:16 mark to drift into space and release a shot quickly for a goal. Around the 1:40 mark he facilitates a rush up the ice and does well to go straight to th net to create a goal out of what was nearly a broken play. Around 2:07 he makes a nice stretch pass that leads to a goal. The following highlight also shows how he likes to join the rush as if he was another forward.
YouTube user SEER VIDEO is back once again with this Charles McAvoy 2015-16 Highlights package.
The video opens with an interview in which McAvoy talks about the type of player he is. Around 1:30 into the video we are treated to an ISO cam on McAvoy (#28) with Team USA. The next part of the video features more highlights of him with Boston University and the All-American Prospects Game, in which we actually get defensive highlights.
An Opinion of Sorts
Based on the numbers, scouting reports, videos, and the quality teams that he's played on, I have to say that I really am intrigued by McAvoy. He seems like the type of player that is more likely than others to make the NHL and it's more of a matter of if he can fully realize his potential to be a top pairing defensemen or will he be more of a middle pairing player. Either way he has the skills and two-way game that make him stand out as a future first round selection.
The Devils defensive depth did take a bit of a hit last season with trade of an ineffective Eric Gelinas and an underwhelming season by Jon Merrill. Sure, Adam Larsson is still young and has emerged as a top pairing guy, Damon Severson figures to rebound after a turbulent year, and Steve Santini is now a pro but the Devils could still use to re-stock part of the prospect pool with a toolsy defender like McAvoy. With that said, there are a few forwards that should be available to the Devils at #11 that I believe are better prospects than McAvoy and would help fit an even greater organizational need. I wouldn't be upset if the Devils took McAvoy - I quite like him as a prospect - but I'd rather see the Devils go with one of the talented forwards that will be available. Whichever team does grab McAvoy should walk away from Day 1 of the draft thrilled though.
Charles McAvoy is definitely an intriguing prospect and I would expect the Devils to have some level of interest in the young defensemen. What do you think of him as a prospect? What type of player do you think he could become? Would you want the Devils to select him? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!