NHL draft: Collegiate learning curve helped Charlie McAvoy hone skills


BUFFALO, N.Y. — As a youngster, Charlie McAvoy Sr. was forced to step away from the game of hockey due to his family’s financial restrictions. Now a plumbing and heating contractor, McAvoy made sure his son, Charlie McAvoy Jr., would have every opportunity to excel on the ice.

A defenseman at Boston University, McAvoy is expected to have his named called in the first round Friday night at the NHL draft.

“Hockey was his favorite sport and it was unfortunate that he didn’t get to play as much as he wanted to,” McAvoy said of his father at the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month. “But he’s been everything for me, he’s been my role model growing up and he’s given me every opportunity to get to this level and I couldn’t thank him enough.”

McAvoy admitted these days his father is living vicariously through him as he chases his NHL dream.

“To an extent, he’s along for the ride," he said, "and rightfully so, because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. We’re enjoying it together.”

While studying general studies at Boston, McAvoy registered three goals and 22 assists in 37 games with the Terriers this past season. Internationally, he represented the U.S. at the U-20 world juniors, helping Team USA win a bronze medal.

As one of the younger players in college hockey, McAvoy — who is just 18 years old — believes playing against older competition gives him a leg up on fellow blueliners ranked for this year’s draft.

“From a development standpoint, I think I played against guys [where] the competition is more like the next level — playing against guys who are anywhere from one to six years older than you on a Friday and Saturday night basis,” McAvoy said. “I think playing [against] that type of competition, and that kind of level, that only prepares me more for the next level.”

The 6-foot, 208-pound Long Beach, New York, native is described as a puck-moving defenseman who skates well and has excellent mobility. When playing the puck, McAvoy is poised and rarely panics under pressure.

On the offensive side, McAvoy uses his mobility on the blue line to his advantage, gets shots through and makes good decisions.

McAvoy was the sixth-ranked North American skater, and the third defenseman, on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. ISS Hockey had the blueliner ranked 25th overall in its draft guide.

“He's a smart two-way defenseman that's steadily improved over the course of the season,” Dennis MacInnis, ISS Hockey scouting director, said. “Jumps into the play, good offensive instincts — I like the fact that he plays with a lot of passion and compete.

“He plays with a lot of confidence, excellent skater, mobility."

Last season, with the U.S. National Under-18 program, McAvoy scored seven goals and 33 assists in 63 games. He helped the U-18 team take second at the five nations tournament in the Czech Republic, and to a first-place finish at the four nations tournament in Sweden.

Despite the success, McAvoy admitted there was a steep learning curve early on at BU.

“I think some of the things I did in the USHL the year before, they didn’t [transfer] very well in college,” he said. “College hockey will definitely hold you accountable. I learned that very early. It was a bit of an adjustment for me, but defensively I was in such a good place with coach [David] Quinn.”

Scouts believe McAvoy compares to Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, but he prefers to model his game after L.A. Kings blueliner Drew Doughty.

“I think [Doughty is] a complete player and I try to pride myself on being a complete player, someone who can play at both ends of the ice, so he’s my guy,” McAvoy said.

Whoever selects McAvoy at the draft will get a player who has the potential of becoming a top-four defenseman at the NHL level in the near future. The Flyers were one of the clubs to meet with McAvoy during the interview period at combine, and with the team selecting 18th overall, the blueliner could be available when they make their pick.

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