2016 Summer Cooler interview series: Matt Grzelcyk

 

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Matt Grzelcyk was Boston’s third-round selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.(Kirk Luedeke photo)

The Summer Cooler interview series is back!

A year ago, we kicked it off with Boston Bruins players Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug, plus Calgary Flames prospect Jon Gillies.

This time, and with Boston Bruins development camp around the corner, we’re proud to bring you an in-depth profile and interview on defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.

A third-round pick in 2012 (along with boyhood teammate and close chum Jimmy Vesey– but more on him later on) the former two-year Boston University captain is a Townie- born and raised in Charlestown, Mass. who grew up dreaming of playing for the Black and Gold. Now, with his NCAA career in the rearview mirror, Grzelcyk has his first real opportunity to make that dream come true, as he prepares for his first NHL main training camp in September.

His father, John, is a long-time member of the Boston Garden (okay- TD Garden) bull gang, and young Grzelcyk was born during the last full 80-game season of the old Boston Garden. Yes, the final hockey campaign for the old barn was 1994-95, when Grzelcyk turned 1, but a lockout shortened that season to just 48 games. “Grizzy” grew up in the shadow of the FleetCenter (now TD Garden) and played his minor hockey close to home, including his time as a standout prep schooler at Belmont Hill School in Belmont, before joining Team USA at age 16.

The scouting report on Grzelcyk is pretty straight forward- what he lacks in ideal NHL size and physical strength, he more than compensates for in speed, hockey IQ and a champion’s heart and desire. He’s a left-shot defenseman who can push the pace and excels in space, where he uses his 4-way compass skating to move the puck out of danger and speed up the transition game. He’s improved his shot from when he was with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich. from 2010-12, having scored  20 goals (and 61 points) in his last two years in the NCAA with the Terriers (68 games) versus just six markers in his freshman and sophomore years combined. Like other undersized defenders, he can be physically overpowered at times in his own end and has to rely on positional smarts and savvy, along with an active stick and ability to read the developing play.

Although Grzelcyk resembles current Bruins defenseman Torey Krug in that they are both under 6-feet and were captains of their respective college teams, it would be a mistake to think that the rookie pro is a carbon copy of the established veteran who just inked a deserved four-year extension worth $5.25 million per year. The two might share some similar traits, but they bring different styles to the ice. With his talent and drive, don’t bet against Grzelcyk one day establishing himself in the NHL as a top-4 D, but he may require developmental time in the minors and have to work his way up the big club’s depth chart accordingly. For now, he’s focusing on making sure he’s physically and mentally prepared for the challenge after being hindered by several knee injuries in the past 14 months.

Matt was kind enough to talk pucks with the Scouting Post this week after one of his daily off-ice workouts, as he prepares for the beginning of B’s prospects camp next week.

Here’s the Q & A:

the Scouting Post: Matt, up front- congratulations on finishing your career at BU. Looking back on the four years, what are some of the things you are most proud of in terms of accomplishments and personal growth?

Matt Grzelcyk: Thank you. I think being at BU at four years was definitely an up and down journey at times, and my class especially can attest that we went through a lot of adversity but I felt that it made us grow up a ton more. It certainly seems that with the incoming class this year- BU is on track to get right back to being the powerhouse that a lot of people are used to seeing. I’m really proud to have been a part of that, and to have started that journey back up after sophomore year.

TSP: You’re getting ready to officially join Boston’s system- outside of going to the annual (summer) development camps. Talk about the biggest changes you’ve experienced from your first development camp in 2012 and you’re getting ready to hit your fifth camp. What perspectives can you share in terms of what it was like when you started out and what are some of the things that you’ve learned that have helped you in your development over the past four seasons after being drafted by Boston?

MG: I think especially my first year I was a little more wide-eyed going in. I wasn’t really sure how development camps worked or anything like that- I think it was about a week after I’d just been drafted, which was kind of a whirlwind experience in itself. I think that after the first three years, I’ve been able to settle down. This year especially, I’m excited to go there because I haven’t been really in the loop of things for two years getting caught up on some injuries (editor’s note- knee surgery in May 2015 prevented Grzelcyk from being a full participant last summer), but it’s definitely exciting to be get back out there, especially with the great young talent the team has coming in.

TSP: Is this something where your role as one of the more veteran and experienced prospects on the development camp roster lends itself to more of a hands-on role for you?

MG: Yeah, so I think over the years, I’ve been able to step into more of a leadership role, especially with being able to wear the ‘C’ at BU for two years. That definitely helped me grow up a little bit more and take more responsibility for not only my play on the ice, but how I handle myself off the ice. It was a great experience being able to be a leader at BU and hopefully this year, I can help out some of the younger guys like my (Terriers defense) partner, Charlie McAvoy, who’s coming into his first camp. If he or anyone else needs any advice or anything else along the way, I’m happy to help.

TSP: You talked to me about McAvoy in my post-draft feature on him, but for those who might have missed that, can you share a little more about what he brings to the table?

MG: I’d say first and foremost- Charlie’s a heck of a kid. He’s really a complete player. On the ice- he’s a lot of fun to play with and he can certainly add a lot to the offense with his skill set. He’s got a real broad frame to him too, so he’s real tough to get off the puck. He skates the puck extremely well, which feeds right into where the Bruins want to go- they want to play more of a transition game and Charlie can certainly provide that. I think he was the youngest skater in college hockey last year- I don’t know that you could have drawn up a better season than the one he had- he really was awesome.

TSP: I had an opportunity to speak with Terriers head coach (David) Quinn right after the McAvoy selection, and the words he used were “magnetic personality” to describe Charlie as a player that everyone just seemed drawn to and was a guy the other players wanted to be around. Coach Don Granato (U.S. NTDP) also talked about what a loyal player he is in that he does whatever the coaches ask but he also was a guy that the teammates just gravitate to. Did you get the same sense about him not only as his on-ice partner but the captain of the team as well?

MG: Absolutely. He’s about as likable as a kid as you can have on your team. He’s always got a smile on his face; he’s always positive going into the rink. But, the other thing I like about him is that as soon as he steps on the ice, he means business and he’s got that game face on, especially this year, when I noticed he had some more physicality to his game. He’s really competitive, even in practice- he practices as hard as anyone I’ve been around, so I’m sure the Bruins definitely like to hear that and they’ll see it from him at development camp.

TSP: Let’s talk about Matt Grzelcyk– for people who maybe aren’t familiar with your background, can you talk about growing up in Charlestown and what it means to have the kind of connection to the team you always have, and what it was like for you in Pittsburgh to be in the Consol Energy Center when the Bruins called your name with the 85th overall selection?

MG: It’s a unique experience growing up in Boston and getting drafted by the Bruins. It’s something that I couldn’t even imagine happening along the way. Obviously, playing at the national team and being on some pretty stacked teams on defense- playing time was pretty hard to come by especially at the end of the (2011-12) season and at the U18 Worlds, but I just tried to get better as much as I could, and being a part of that team was huge. Going into Pittsburgh, obviously the rankings were what they were and everything but being so low was kind of discouraging and I didn’t want to be one of those guys that showed up at the draft and didn’t get picked, so I was kind of unsure. I don’t know if my parents got a tip or something but they were pretty adamant about me going down, at least to watch and support my teammates getting picked, so to have my name called in the third round was a shock, but growing up as a kid in Boston, I couldn’t have drawn it up any better.

My whole U18 year had a lot of (NHL)teams come in and interview guys and I’d kind of had the feeling that I might be on a lot of teams’ lists, so I kind of had an indication that I was at least on some peoples’ radars, which was encouraging to hear. But going into the draft- you try not to ask too many questions about where you think you might get drafted or anything like that. I didn’t want to create that expectation in my mind, but I certainly wasn’t even contemplating going in the top-three rounds, so that was definitely a shock. I’m definitely  not complaining about it!

TSP: How much of a relief was it for you to get that entry-level contract with the Bruins done and signed last spring and what is your honest feeling as you sit on the verge of your first main veteran camp and the chance to skate with and get to know guys that you’ve watched from a distance in the past, but now have the opportunity to work and compete with and against?

MG: I think right now I’m just anxious more than anything. It’s certainly been a long time coming; it seems like a long time ago that the draft happened and I’ve had a few hiccups along the way, but I’m really just anxious and excited to get things going. It’s been a long journey but to get the contract done and out of the way was huge. Obviously, it’s a dream come true that it happened, but it’s really just the first step in the process. I’m just going to continue to work as hard as I possibly can this summer to make sure that heading into camp I’m ready to go. It’s so nice to be training here at BU with the new (Brighton) facility right down the street so there’s certainly a lot of motivation coming into camp and the kind of opportunity that lies ahead with the Bruins defense so I’m really just looking forward to it.

TSP: Can you talk about the summer pro league in Foxboro you’ve been a part of and what the chance to play with guys like Jack Eichel and Jimmy Vesey and so many others in the NHL, minor pro and NCAA ranks does for your development and how beneficial it is for you to get a chance to skate in the offseason like that?

MG: I think it’s awesome, honestly- there aren’t many leagues in the summer months around like it, so to have all those guys come each and every summer to skate there is a great there is such a good experience. There are a number of great players- you can work on skills all you want, but it’s nice to sometimes get a break from that and come in and compete against guys who know what it takes and can let you show your skills off and learn from one another. I think a lot of the guys- they don’t just take it easy- it’s a great workout and a lot of conditioning and it’s nice to tune up those guys and have  a few special players like Jack and Jimmy and others to just soak it up and watch them- see the tendencies that they have and it’s nice to be able to apply that to your game.

TSP: Without getting into speculation about his NHL destination, can you talk about Jimmy Vesey as a person and a player? I think it’s worth mentioning the relationship  you have with him and with Brendan Collier as well as the closest of friends who came up through minor hockey together and have been around each other as teammates and opponents. There aren’t many who know Vesey on and off the ice as well as you do. Jimmy might be a North Reading guy, but his dad’s a Townie- I think a lot is lost in translation by those who aren’t from the Boston area and might not realize just how close those bonds are between you. (Editor’s note- “Big Jim” Vesey was Grzelcyk’s first organized minor hockey coach, a team he played on with Jimmy and Collier)

MG: Yeah- Jimmy’s a great player, obviously. He won the Hobey Baker last year, which was great, and I think the season before that was just as spectacular if not better. He’s certainly grown up a lot at Harvard and I’ve played with him since we were six years old, so I know how good he’s been- he’s really been the best player in our age group for a long time and he’s as competitive a teammate as I’ve ever had, and he’s a great friend off the ice. He’s got a great skill set to him, it’s obviously well-documented: I think just the way he approaches the game is a little different than anyone else- they way he’s so aggressive attacking the net and he has unbelievable skills with high-end vision and hockey IQ. I’m sure having his dad (former Merrimack College legend and NHL forward Jim Vesey)  along the way has helped him- I know it certainly helped me as a teammate and player growing up.

TSP: You’re a student of the game, so you’ve followed the NHL over the years- what were your first impressions when you got the news on July 1st that Loui Eriksson was moving on, but the Bruins had signed St. Louis Blues captain and one of the most notable USA players in David Backes?

MG: I think it’s awesome- just as a fan of the game and watching the NHL each and every year I think he certainly gets your attention with his 200-foot play. He’s clearly as competitive a guy as there is in the NHL. Like you mentioned, I think he’s kind of paved the way for USA Hockey along the way through his years of coming up. I don’t know him personally, but I’m definitely a huge fan of the way he plays the game and I’m sure a lot of the guys on the (Bruins) team are excited to have him on board and I know the Bruins are definitely excited to sign a guy like him because he brings a lot of passion to the game, so I think he’ll be a fan favorite here early on.

TSP: Going back to the Bruins defense- you know there will be stiff competition- there are a lot of veterans there. What is your outlook and what do you think is a healthy mindset for you going in knowing that you will be competing for an NHL job in terms of making the best impression to earn a job with the big club sooner rather than later?

MG: I think number one especially coming after the season I had with the injury bug, is that I’ve had a little time in the summer to kind of take it upon myself to come to camp in the best possible shape I can to be able to compete with those guys. A few of them (Krug among them) have come into the (BU) gym and I’ve seen firsthand just how hard they work. It’s a nice reminder and thing to have in the back of my head for what it takes to get to that level. I think going into camp I just- I’ve always been raised to be a really competitive guy-a lot of defensemen are vying for jobs and I’m trying to give it the best shot I can. I’m trying to put myself in the best situation I can physically, and I think mentally- just knowing that the Bruins are really seeking more transition to their game and it’s definitely a strong suit of mine, so to be able to add to the offense…not necessarily with goals and assists but by just making it easier on the forwards by making a really great first pass out of the zone is just something that I’ve learned is extremely important especially from Coach Quinn here at BU.

I think keeping that in mind and staying with that competitive side. I’m obviously a smaller player and there are tons of really big guys in the NHL, but if I can go in there as physically ready as I can be, and I’ve also improved my defensive game as a whole since I’ve gotten to BU so, just take those lessons in and give it my 100 percent effort.

***

Thanks to Matt for taking the time and there will be more where that came from as the summer goes on. Watch for future posts, podcasts and other things here at the Scouting Post as we work through the offseason and start looking ahead to the 2016-17 hockey season. As always, thanks for reading (and listening)!

Matt Grzelcyk 2012-13 BU Away Front

 

 

 

More McAvoy…what’s in a series of pictures?

Here are three pictures of Bruins top pick Charlie McAvoy on Friday. Two of them have Montreal first selection and fellow D-man Mikhail Sergachev in them.

What do you think is going on here? What conclusion do you think we can draw from it? I got some interesting insights from both BU head coach David Quinn and Wisconsin assistant Don Granato.

I’ll provide my answer in the next “3 Amigos” podcast featuring Dom Tiano and Reed Duthie. We’re recording it on Thursday and it will go up later in the evening to beat the free agency day mad rush.

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McAvoy and Mikhail Sergachev (Kirk Luedeke photo)

McAvoy and Mikhail Sergachev (Kirk Luedeke photo)

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Getting to know Charlie McAvoy

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By the time the Boston Bruins and owner Charles Jacobs stepped up to the podium at First Niagara Center in Buffalo to announce the team’s first draft choice with the 14th overall selection last Friday, it was all but fait accompli that one of Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy or Boston University recruit defender Dante Fabbro out of Penticton was going to be the name called.

Both were available, both were right-shot defensemen, both represented not only what many would consider the top talent available at that spot, but were also filled a clear organizational need for the B’s.

He stumbled over the words, but the younger Jacobs, who was born in Buffalo as the son of Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs- CEO of the Western N.Y. Delaware North Corporation- called McAvoy’s name and after a season of frustration and an epic meltdown over the last 30 days of a year in which the B’s had largely overachieved before crashing to earth in March and early April, Boston had their man.

“Charlie’s one of those players who can do a little bit of everything,” one NHL scout for an Eastern Conference team told the Scouting Post in Buffalo before the draft. “Some are talking top-10 for him, and I could see that. He has the talent for it. More realistically, I see him going around 15-20, but that’s not a knock on him. He’s got that wide body and a natural knack for getting up in the play. With his skating he can push it at both ends, and that’s so important in the NHL these days. He’s also a bit of a character, too. He totally rocked our interview…we’re not in a position to get him, but we all kind of looked at each other when he left and thought, that’s a good kid right there.”

McAvoy is a nice fit in Boston with his blue collar roots. He grew up on Long Island the son of a plumber and fireman who was a natural at hockey but came from a large family, and finances did not permit him to continue playing the sport at the higher levels. A staunch NY Rangers fan, hockey remained his favorite after moving onto other sports like football and baseball, but he vowed to do what it took to allow his son to stay in hockey if that’s what Charlie desired.

That desire took McAvoy through the Long Island Gulls and New Jersey Rockets minor hockey programs before he landed a spot with the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Team USA moved to Plymouth, Mich. before the start of the 2015-16 hockey season). While there, he emerged as a legitimate first-round NHL option, and carried that potential forward to fruition in his very own Empire State on June 24, 2016.

Born on December 21, 1997, the younger McAvoy missed the Rangers’ first and only Stanley Cup victory since 1940 by three-plus years. He was a Broadway Blueshirts fanatic whose first favorite player was Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch. To this day, Leetch remains the player he most tries to emulate in his playing style. At the rate he’s going, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that McAvoy could develop into a successful NHL star with similar attributes.

“I’m at a loss for words; it’s an unbelievable feeling and I’m so happy to be a part of this,” McAvoy said after the selection and he made his way into the bowels of the arena to meet the press for the first time as a member of the Boston Bruins. “I’ve gotten close with (the Bruins) this year and I’m sure my friends at home are happy, but I’m kind of cutting the ties with New York sports. Boston’s an unbelievable city and it’s a great place with great people and I’m happy to be staying there.”

Although not tall, McAvoy has a thick, strong build. His BU coach, David Quinn, spoke to the Scouting Post (TSP) after the selection briefly and credited the newest Boston first-rounder with putting in a lot of weight room work to get himself into better game shape after arriving, and said that the 18-year-old made significant progress as a player in all facets from the beginning of the 2015-16 season until the end. He also talked of Charlie’s “magnetic personality” and that players want to spend time with him.

“That was something that I worked on a lot- the defensive side of the puck,” McAvoy said. “It was something I needed to grow in and get better in and I feel like I made great strides throughout the year.”

McAvoy is a natural offensive talent. In his own words, he sees himself as a threat to be effective at both ends.

“I’m a two-way defenseman,” said McAvoy. “I can play the offensive side of the puck and that’s something I like to do, but I’ve grown a lot on the defensive side of the game.”

During a pre-draft podcast, TSP likened McAvoy to one of the pirates of old who liked to set his hair on fire before plundering a hapless vessel. He’s a classic push-the-pace, aggressive defender who likes to lead the rush and has the skating and puck skills to carry the puck out of his end on his own and can make all of the key outlet passing and long leads. There are times where his riverboat gambler mentality will get him out of position, but McAvoy has the natural hockey sense to learn from that and with continued strong coaching at BU by Quinn, Albie O’Connell and Scott Young– he’s sure to get better with his reads and decisions.

His defense partner, former BU captain and future Bruin Matt Grzelcyk, had left-seat ride with McAvoy all year, watching the 17-year-old arrive on campus last summer to complete his academic requirements so he could play in the NCAA while other peers remained in high school. That maturity and self-discipline to see it through impressed Grzelcyk enough, but it was McAvoy’s poise and ability that elevated him as the season went on.

EDIT- I managed to exchange texts with Grzelcyk and this is what he has to say about his former teammate and fellow Bruins prospect:

“Playing with Charlie was an awesome experience,” Grzelcyk, who just concluded an outstanding four-year career at BU (two years as captain) after being a third-round pick by his hometown B’s in 2012, said. “Even though he was the youngest player in college hockey last year he was mature both on and off the ice as soon as he stepped foot on campus.

“He’s a great skater who’s tough to knock of the puck and was able to add a bit of an edge to his game; in my opinion, it made his impact on the game even greater. Over the course of the year, I believe he was best when he was able to simplify his game and allow his skill to take over. He was an unbelievable D partner to have, and an even better teammate. I could not be happier to see him picked by the Bruins.”

Now, with his first collegiate season under his belt (he scored three goals, but added an impressive 22 assists in 37 games, which was more than Noah Hanifin had a year ago), he’s looking to kick things up a notch on Commonwealth Ave, after the Terriers took a disappointing step back last year.

“I was joking with (Don) Sweeney, I said- Grizzy and JFK- they can’t get rid of me now,” he said. “They’re unbelievable players and great people. It’s going to be exciting to go through all this stuff with them.”

McAvoy’s national team coach, Don Granato, who left the NTDP to join his brother Tony as an assistant with the University of Wisconsin, talked to TSP about his former defenseman and said that McAvoy has one of those even-keeled yet outgoing personalities- teammates just gravitate to him because of who he is and how he conducts himself. He’s a 1st-round talent and a 1st-round person, he said, citing that McAvoy is one of the most loyal players of any he has coached in his career. “Anything we told him, he soaked up like a sponge,” said Granato. “He wanted to get better, and that kind of loyalty and dedication in a player is something that helps you go the extra mile as a coach.”

That loyalty might have been part of a small theater of the absurd that cropped up Friday night when someone got ahold of a tweet that McAvoy sent in May, 2013 at age 15. For those who might have been under a rock at that time, the Bruins were in the second round of the playoffs against McAvoy’s Rangers and had just taken a 3-0 series lead (they would win it in five games on their way to the Stanley Cup final against Chicago). The die-hard Broadway Blueshirts-supporting teen sent out a tweet expressing his hatred for all things Bruins. It’s a sad commentary when people are so thin-skinned and petty that more than three years later, some were actually holding that against him. If you’re one of those people- do yourself a favor- look in the mirror and give your head a shake. You need some perspective in life, and shame on TSN and any other media outlets who picked up on a teenager’s tweet and made it a circus sideshow on the biggest night of his young life.

“Not necessarily,” was McAvoy’s attempt at diplomacy when a reporter asked him point blank if he “hated” all Boston sports teams growing up (he even chuckled before responding). “You grow up- kinda- I guess you’re taught not to like them (Boston sports) because of the rivalry but I’ve got a Red Sox hat now, so that’s the first step and I’ve got this Bruins jersey, so that’s pretty cool. I’ll just keep growing.”

He then demonstrated what his coaches and teammates talk about when they say what a good, fun guy he is to have in the room, showing one last bastion of loyalty to his New York Giants:

“I don’t know if I can be a Pats fan,” he quipped with perfect comedic timing, drawing an instant reaction from the Boston media (pro tip- we thought it was funny). “But we’ll see. Give it a little a time.”

The Bruins, for their part, could have opted for the more defensively-polished and serious Fabbro. TSP was not shy in saying that Fabbro was the higher-rated option, but at the same time- the margin between the two was razor thin. The British Columbia-bred Fabbro went 17th overall to the Nashville Predators, and will join McAvoy at BU next season. We said it all along- if the Bruins had a choice between the two, it was win-win either way. McAvoy has a higher offensive upside, but Fabbro was a little better defensively. Both are winners, so if you felt like you were sold on Fabbro over McAvoy, just consider that perhaps playing in Boston’s back yard tipped the scales.

With four first-round picks either at BU or headed there next year (Clayton Keller, McAvoy, Fabbro and Kieffer Bellows), McAvoy said that they all got together for lunch on Friday before the draft and that he can’t wait to get going again. Assuming everyone arrives on schedule (there is talk of Keller perhaps playing in the OHL, as the Windsor Spitfires own his major junior rights), the Terriers are poised to be the beasts of the Hockey East.

“I’m excited to be Charlie’s teammate and excited about joining that BU tradition,” Fabbro told TSP before the draft. “Coach Quinn and Albie and everyone has built something special and I’m just looking forward to being a part of it and doing what I can to help the Terriers win.”

As for the Bruins, they admitted to having a tough choice between the two players, and in hindsight- it might have been easier had one or the other come off the board before 14. In the end, they simply liked McAvoy a little more, and Bruins chief scout Keith Gretzky made mention that playing well against guys as much as six years older than McAvoy was one of many factors that tilted the B’s towards him.

“We’re excited with the skill set and the upside he has as as player with and without the puck,” Sweeney told assembled reporters Friday night. “He’s a multi-tool player; we feel like he has offensive upside that will continue to get better. You know, he steps into the college game and you can track where he was in the first half of the season, second half and understand that he got acclimated.

“People had spoken about him maybe to try to do a little too much at times, and he’s playing against guys that are four or five years older in some cases and really handled himself very well. He’s a very physical player at times- we’d actually need to back him off, but it’s another very good quality he has. He can puck-separate; he finds the middle of the ice and as a matter of fact, ‘JFK’ spoke highly of that in terms of a centerman wants the puck, and he wants it in motion when he’s going up ice and I think today, it’s paramount for defensemen to be able to establish more than one option; be able to recognize it, be able to execute it and I think Charlie does it well.”

In the end, McAvoy’s selection infused some excitement at a time the team needed it. He’s headed back to BU for at least one more season, but with his advanced strength and physical maturity, don’t be surprised to see the Bruins bring him out as early as next spring when his season ends. It wouldn’t constitute the impossible to see him turn pro sooner than that depending on how he looks at the B’s development camp the week of July 11, but having him return to school for one more NCAA campaign looks more realistic at this stage. If he takes the anticipated step forward, Boston won’t wait long to get him into their system and see if he can contribute to the NHL roster sooner rather than later.

Even with the optimistic outlook, however, McAvoy knows that the work is only beginning and that he can’t afford to take anything for granted. He’s got some work to do conditioning-wise and one can only imagine that noted Boston strength coach John Whitesides is eagerly awaiting the chance to sink his teeth into McAvoy and tease even more performance out of the youngster’s impressive natural physical package.

“You can’t get caught up in it because this is one day,” he said of the excitement of being a first-round NHL draft pick. “I’m going to enjoy this with my family and my friends but I’ll be at school Monday and I’ll be working out in the morning and I’ll be back in class and that’s really where it all starts: growing and continuing to grow, and getting ready to play in the NHL every single day.”

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