Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: D Charlie McAvoy

Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2015; Sunrise, FL, USA; A general view of the podium on stage before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

In a year that saw the Canucks reap heavily from the NCAA with players like Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, and Ben Hutton, it is only fair that this year’s top draft-eligible collegiate player should be featured. Enter Charlie McAvoy.

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Name: Charlie McAvoy

Position: Defence

Shoots: Rright

Height, weight: 6’0″, 205 lbs

Team/League: Boston University, NCAA 

Stats (from







NHL CSS Ranking:  6th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2/5, 4/5

NHL-potential: Top-Pairing Defenceman

Draft Range: Mid-First Round

Scouting report

"Charlie McAvoy is an excellent skater, with good speed and acceleration in both directions. He has very good agility, and edgework, which allows him to avoid forecheckers or to skate through traffic in the neutral zone to create offence. He also has good pivots allowing him to transition quickly from defence-to-offence and vice-versa. McAvoy’s strong skating allows him to cover a lot of ice. McAvoy has very good balance and is tough to knock off the puck. It also allows him to establish position in board battles and in clearing the front of the net. (Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports)"


Charlie McAvoy’s freshman prowess has been well documented with Boston University. Despite being the youngest player in the NCAA this season, he has consistently led his NCAA peers on the draft rankings.

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His skating and his puck play is similar to the Canucks’ own NCAA graduate Ben Hutton — the way McAvoy can control the pace of play with the puck is just like Hutton’s. Perhaps McAvoy is a little more aggressive with the puck the way he attacks the gaps in the opposition.

McAvoy’s skillset seems to embody even more — the physicality. Unlike Hutton who rarely dishes out full-throttle body checks on the opposition, McAvoy has the Jake Virtanen mentality of making great use of his strength and solid frame by the boards and in front of the net. This edge to his play is evident in his PIM department. Throughout his entire career at almost all levels, he has accumulated penalties at a minute-per-game rate. The strength to this is that he has now familiarized himself with the boundaries of physicality and the sin bin.

McAvoy possesses a heavy shot and a great pass that has me wondering if he is the Alex Edler that the Canucks have missed for so long. His mobility and willingness to join the rush seem characteristic of the new wave of American collegiate defencemen and the plethora of two-way defencemen at the NCAA level. How amazed are we at the quick transition game that these players all possess?


If there is one thing missing from McAvoy’s strengths, it would be the offensive creativity. He has the raw tools to produce — the shot, the pass, the speed, and the frame to get into tough areas — but has not developed that elite-level vision and playmaking that some of the other defencemen of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft seem to have.

His shot, though very fine and strong, could use some work, too. The goals department would testify, likewise. The slap shot especially has been noted by scouts to be weak, perhaps inconsistent.

And of course, the hitting and the discipline is always something for physical skaters to work on. And likewise with all these defencemen, the d-zone work could use some work. I would guess that he will need to start defending with his stick and positioning and less with his hitting.

Lastly, because he is one of the youngest players in the NCAA, he has not had the opportunity to display leadership. His intangibles may not be as prolific as, for example, those that the older CHL players in this year’s draft show.

Final Thoughts

Charlie McAvoy is a strong two-way defenceman who has the physical edge to the game that a modern-era NHL top-pairing defenceman should have. The way he is being described, he sounds like the perfect defenceman on earth. However, the truth is that there is not much scouting information available on McAvoy and therefore should be taken with a grain of salt.

Would it not be great to have McAvoy on a pairing with Chris Tanev? I cannot help but see the old number 23 back in the form of McAvoy.

It is unlikely that the Canucks will be able to pick McAvoy, though, who is projected to go in the middle of the first round. The Canucks would be doing themselves harm in picking McAvoy with a top-six pick. There are better defencemen than him available.

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But if the Canucks were to trade to acquire a pick in the middle of the first round, McAvoy would be the top defenceman available. If he does not get drafted anywhere in the top twenty picks, he is going to be a big steal.

But there is an X-factor here.

NHL teams may pry themselves away from some of the top NCAA prospects after all the drama around prospects not signing with their draft teams but choosing rather to enter free agency after their senior year.

So are teams going to stay away from drafting NCAA products? That is a reason valid enough for me to say that a guy like McAvoy may drop as low as the top of the second round, where the Canucks have top picks.

Why take uncertainty in NCAA players when there are so many other options who are just as good in this deep draft? That goes to the Canucks as well — does Benning want to go through the “waiting too long to sign Demko” drama again?

That being said, Benning has historically put emphasis on character and leadership. McAvoy is certainly not a proven leader, at least according to what is available online.

The best solution may be to simply pick the top player available.

Next: ANALYSIS: Stecher Signing Defines the Organization

So after the Canucks took a big step in signing Troy Stecher out of the NCAA and now Thatcher Demko too, will the wave of NCAA prospects continue with the emergence of McAvoy as a top prospect?