You’re probably sitting wherever you are right now thinking, “Wow, what an absolute bargain the Boston Bruins got on Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.”
And that’s probably the way you should be thinking, because both deals, particularly McAvoy’s, could be looked at as a bargain.
The Bruins on Tuesday signed Brandon Carlo to a two-year deal worth $2.85 million annually. That comes two days after Charlie McAvoy got a three-year bridge worth $4.89 million annually. Given the Bruins had about $8 million in cap space to sign the two young defensemen, general manager Don Sweeney’s ability to keep both players in the fold on team-friendly deals without really moving anyone out is impressive. And given the term of their deals, both players will remain restricted free agents once their new pacts run out.
But here’s the potential problem: These deals are considered bargains because both players have high ceilings.
The reason the almost universal reaction to the McAvoy deal was that it was a big win for the Bruins was because the 21-year-old is, well, more than a roughly $5 million per year defenseman. When considering his age, it’s fair to think he will continue to get even better and truly cement himself among the NHL’s elite defensemen. That very well could happen over the next three years, and in doing so, McAvoy could position himself to make significantly more once his current deal is up.
Granted, the Bruins made the right play here since they all but certainly wouldn’t be able to get McAvoy locked up to a long-term deal without upping the AAV substantially, in turn likely forcing them to move money out elsewhere. But some inherent risk comes with signing a young player with such a high ceiling to a deal that will conclude when they’re 24-years-old.
Conversely, McAvoy has struggled with injuries throughout his young career, never playing more than 63 and 54 regular-season games, respectively, in each of his first two seasons. That’s by no means his fault, but if health issues persist the Bruins may be able to look back on this contract and say they safeguarded themselves from a deal that had significant terms, only for him to contend with injuries each year.
In Carlo’s case, his game as it stands is way too one-dimensional for him to reach a point where he’d carry a crippling cap hit down the road. However, there’s still enough room for growth that he could see a nice bump in pay once his new contract is up. That’s not a surprise, but consider this: David Krejci and Tuukka Rask now are among those who will be up the same offseason as Carlo, so that projects to be a big offseason for Boston — especially if Torey Krug re-signs next summer at what all but certainly will be a hefty figure. In short, there’s a lot of big decisions on Sweeney’s plate over the next few offseasons, and Carlo will remain one of them sooner rather than later.
But for right now, the Bruins are capitalizing on their window, and they should be commended for that. The story much of the last couple months was how they would be able to free up cap space in order to sign the two blueliners. Turns out, they didn’t have to make any drastic moves, and as such, they’re returning much of the same team from a group that reached Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, even if some future risk exists.