In the NHL, it is rare for teams to select players straight out college in the first round of the NHL draft. In fact, only three of the top 30 picks in the 2016 draft came from an NCAA team. One of those was defenseman Charlie McAvoy of Boston University, who was chosen 14th by the Boston Bruins. McAvoy’s impressive defense, coupled with 25 points in 37 games for BU last season, makes him a solid two-way player for the Bruins. McAvoy is still mastering his game, though. He will return to BU for his sophomore year to continue sharpening his skills before his NHL career begins.
The highest drafted American defenseman of 2016 recently chatted with SI Kids about Bruins development camp, memories of his youth hockey, and his career goals.
How did the Bruins development camp go? What did you learn?
Very well. [There was] a lot of emphasis on skill development and skill training. Personally, I think I’ve grown a lot as far as skill goes and to learn the proper way to train and work on my skill.
Take me through your emotions on draft night.
I think leading up to it was a little bit of nerves, but mostly excitement. You don’t have any idea what could happen. Anything could happen. I tried to go into it with an open mind. I tried to stay relaxed and calm, but once you finally get your name picked it’s just overwhelming happiness. You know that you worked so hard, and getting drafted in the first round is really special. Shortly after that it’s right back to work. It’s cool to be drafted, but it doesn’t mean you are in the NHL. It takes a lot more work to get there.
Do you think being drafted by the Bruins added something unique to the experience having played at BU?
I think it’s really special. I think it’s really cool because they’re right down the street. I’ll be at BU and they are right there. So as I continue to grow at Boston and get more familiar at BU I can build a good foundation in Boston, and hopefully I can stay here my whole career.
Let's take a walk down memory lane. When did you first start playing hockey and how did you develop a love for it?
I started playing when I was 4, I guess. It’s hard to really recall when you’re that young, but I guess I just fell in love with the game. I had played other sports at the time. I was a multisport guy for a long time, but I always came back to hockey. It was my favorite sport and it was what I was best at. It was always a lot of fun.
What's your fondest memory from playing hockey as a kid?
I think my biggest memory was playing in this tournament called the Bell Capital Cup in Ottawa around New Years. I must have been 8 or 9. I think it was, like, squirt major. We played that tournament the year before and lost in the semifinal, and we were all crushed because the championship game is played in the Ottawa Senators arena. The following year, we came back and made the championship game and got to play at the Canadian Tire Centre. As a kid, that was a real eye opening experience.
Do you remember anything special about the games themselves during that tournament?
We played the Syracuse Stars, and I was playing for the Long Island Gulls. Coming in we had always battled with them. In that game we actually blew them out. I think we beat them, like, 9-1 or something like that. It was just a lot of fun. I think I might have scored a goal or something. Just playing there was really special. It was right around Christmas time, so that is always a good time of the year.
What's your fondest memory playing at BU?
The Beanpot Tournament was one of the most special things I have ever participated in. The pride that each school and team has and the support you get from your school and the people in Boston second to none. It was an unbelievable experience and I’m looking forward to doing it again.
Did you have a favorite part of that particular experience?
I scored the game-winning goal in the Beanpot semifinal against Northeastern, but it was in the first period so it wasn’t in overtime or anything. Playing at the TD Garden [in Boston] was really cool. It was really special.
Who do you model your game after?
Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty. I like to model a lot of my game around him. He is a real complete player. He kills penalties, he plays with power he needs to, but at the same time he is really responsible defensively and he throws his body around which is something I like to do. I like that side of the game.
What are some goals you have back with BU next season?
We’re going to have a really good team next season at BU, so I’m very excited for that. I personally think the sky is the limit for us. We have a lot of great guys coming in so hopefully we can win championships.
Photos: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images (BU action), Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images (draft)