The Boston Bruins still have some business to take care of this offseason.
The Bruins figure to return mostly the same roster in 2019-20 after losing to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, but restricted free agents Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo remain without contracts for the upcoming campaign, leaving Boston’s front office with work to do before training camp opens in September.
“We do have to plan and prepare for these players to not be at camp opening day,” Bruins president Cam Neely told NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty Thursday in an exclusive interview. “But we have five, six weeks hopefully to get something done. We feel like we should be able to get something done with both of these guys at numbers that make sense for us, and hopefully makes sense for them. I think we’ve done a really good job of kind of managing the cap and making sure that we’re OK to get these guys done.”
McAvoy, 21, and Carlo, 22, have evolved into key contributors along Boston’s blue line, so it’s fair to assume the organization would like to keep both defensemen around for the foreseeable future, especially with fellow D-man Zdeno Chara entering his age-42 season. The Bruins aren’t necessarily at riskrisk of losing either player this offseason, but it’ll be interesting to see what types of commitments Boston makes and when those deals get done.
McAvoy made it perfectly clear after the Bruins’ Game 7 loss to the Blues that he would love to stay with Boston for his entire career. The B’s simply must decide whether they prefer a short-term contract for the top-pairing talent, after which they could make a more serious commitment, or are comfortable signing McAvoy to a lucrative, long-term deal right now.
The same goes for Carlo, who made huge strides in his third NHL season, particularly in the playoffs. Neither player has arbitration rights, limiting each’s leverage in contract negotiations, but both could force Boston’s hand by holding out during training camp or even into the regular season.
Restricted free agents must be signed by Dec. 1 to play during the 2019-20 season.