COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: Brandon Carlo
Countdown to camp: Brandon Carlo
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2017-18 Bruins. Today: Brandon Carlo.
Carlo, 20, became one of the model players for the Bruins draft-and-development system while going from an early second-round pick in 2015 to a top-four shutdown defenseman less than two years later. At 6-5, he's big, strong and willing to do the dirty work in the D-zone to keep the puck out of the net. He's also a highly coachable, conscientious kid who wants to keep improving his all-around game. Carlo should be a staple on the B’s back end for the next 10 years provided he continues to develop his puck-moving game to go along with the natural gifts he has for defending the puck. Carlo’s rookie season was an encouraging sign that better things are to come.
What Happened Last Year
Carlo basically skipped the AHL step in his development and jumped from junior hockey to the NHL with just a handful of AHL games at the end of his final season in juniors. Carlo impressed from Day 1 of training camp last season and was paired as a shutdown D-man with Zdeno Chara from the very start of last season. Carlo had his ups (a great start the first couple of months) and his downs (Carlo was a minus-13 in December and January when the NHL season began to create some fatigue in his game), but the final numbers were impressive for a 20-year-old going against the other team’s best players on a nightly basis. Carlo finished with six goals and 16 points while playing in all 82 games along with a plus-9 rating. He even showed some upside on the offensive end while focusing mostly on defense. A concussion in the final game of the regular season kept him out the playoff series against the Ottawa Senators.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
Certainly, it was an impressive, if uneven rookie season for Carlo with the Bruins, and he ended up well ahead of their development plan for him when it was all said and done. His play in the defensive zone is well above his years with a good level of physicality, an active stick capable of breaking up plenty of offensive chances and a good confidence level to shake off the mistakes when they inevitably happened. The biggest things for Carlo are to create a greater consistency in his game rather than enduring the ebbs and flows of his rookie season and to explore just how much better he can be offensively. Clearly, Carlo can already play at a high level based on his ability to be a top-four D-man at 20, but there is room for him to really be something special if he can continue developing his skating, shooting and passing. This sophomore season will be instructive as to how high the final ceiling level is for Carlo’s talent.
In Their Own Words
“Every day was a whirlwind. It was a lot of fun for me, and, you know, coming in and being able to make the team was a big goal of mine. I’m happy that I accomplished that, not only, you know, breaking through the roster, but staying here all year was a big accomplishment for me. I feel like I grew in a lot of aspects of the game, on and off the ice, so, pretty exciting for me. I feel like I’m just going to continue to get better.” –Carlo, excited at the prospects of his second NHL season.
Carlo is part of the future for the Bruins and is a big bright spot this season, along with fellow young D-man Charlie McAvoy. He has garnered serious interest in potential trades from other NHL teams because he was so impressive as a rookie. He should be able to build on that first year moving forward in Boston. It’s important for Carlo to keep improving his all-around game and his consistency and do so while also focusing intently on his role as a shutdown defenseman that could keep him in the league for a long, long time given his size and skating ability. It will be interesting to see if the Bruins again match Carlo with Zdeno Chara after they were so effective as a shutdown pair last season or if they pair Carlo with a puck-mover to create a more balanced D-tandem on the ice. Either way, Carlo is a player that the Bruins should avoid moving in a trade unless it’s absolutely necessary, and in turn, he should keep working to improve his already solid game. The future is very, very bright for the Bruins with Carlos and other talented young D-men.