BOSTON — Erik Karlsson is one of the NHL’s best defensemen, which is what Charlie McAvoy strives to be one day.
And if the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series between Karlsson’s Ottawa Senators and McAvoy’s Boston Bruins is any indication, McAvoy could find himself in that group sooner than later.
The 19-year-old made his NHL debut in Game 1, and by the end of the six-game series, there was no doubt he belonged in the NHL. Bruins fans took note, fans across the entire sport took note, and perhaps most importantly, Karlson — favored to win his third Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman — took note.
Karlsson went out of his way to stop McAvoy in the post-series handshake line and was seen giving the young Bruin plenty of praise. The two shook hands, and Karlsson patted the Bruins rookie on the chest while offering words of encouragement.
“That was a special interaction there,” McAvoy said Tuesday at the Bruins’ break-up day. “I told him what I thought of him and how he’s kind of an idol of mine and how phenomenal of a player he was. And he said some nice things as well, so it was very nice to talk to someone like that, someone who you grew up watching.”
The interaction is yet another building block or inspiration for McAvoy to draw on as he enters the offseason preparing for his first full NHL season.
“It’s just something special,” he added. “You realized that you’ve watched someone like that play, kind of what I talked about with Chara. I’m in a locker room with guys like that, and it’s something you would have never dreamed of — or should I say would have only dreamed of. You would have never thought it could be reality, and you’re sitting there shaking hands with a guy like Erik Karlsson, who’s someone at times you try to model your game around, and he’s shaking your hand and saying nice things (about you) and it’s just like, you kind of have to pinch yourself sometimes.”