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 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Brandon Carlo.
Brandon Carlo isn’t Boston's brightest defense prospect, and there’s still some question if the 19-year-old will end up as a top-4 D-man in the NHL. But there’s no denying that of all the young defensemen Boston has drafted over the last few years, Carlo is the closest to breaking into the NHL and Bruins fans should expect to see him at some point this season. The 6-foot-5, 19-year-old Carlo is a classic Bruin defenseman: Strong and physical with a bit of a mean streak. He was projected to be a first-round pick in 2015, though he dropped to the B’s at the start of the second round, and there’s a lot to like about his game.
What Happened Last Year
Carlo had a very strong season for the Tri-City Americans after being drafted by the Bruins at the top of the second round, and really opened eyes as a top-pairing D-man for Team USA at the World Junior Championships last winter. He showed his defensive prowess in that stint for Team USA, but also displayed a surprisingly deft ability to move the puck and react offensively. Carlo finished with 4 goals and 27 points in 52 games along with 94 PIMs for Tri-City, then was impressive in a late-season AHL stint with Providence. Carlo was dropped into an elimination playoff game for the P-Bruins, and played very well despite his inexperience at the professional level. His progress from beginning to end last season gave Bruins management confidence that Carlo could contribute this year.
Questions To Be Answered This Season
The biggest questions for Carlo: How much, and how soon? In other words, how much of the NHL world can he be expected to handle with only a couple of games of pro experience under his belt, and how soon can the Bruins promote him? Clearly the best path to success includes a developmental stint in the AHL, and the B's have enough veteran defensemen under contract that Carlo doesn't need to start the season in Boston. If he proves he's ready, all the better. But it would be a mistake for Bruins fans to expect too much from him at such a young age, and he’s not going to be a future No. 1. Still, it seems clear Carlo can help a team that sorely needs back-end assistance.
What they're saying
“He’s a little bit younger, but he was in Providence at the end of last year and I was really impressed with him in terms of how he closes and defends. He’s 19 years old, he skates well for a big kid. It’s the rough edges around his game and the puck skills (that need sharpening), but for a young kid he stays out of trouble. That’s important.
“Those are the kids that generally do well transitioning to the next level, the kids that don’t bring trouble onto themselves. There’s enough trouble in a hockey game that you don’t need bring any extra onto yourself. He seems to be a kid that doesn’t make [trouble] for himself, so that combination, along with the ability to close plays off and end plays, should project well for him.”
New Providence Bruins head coach Kevin Dean on Carlo after watching him at the end of last season and in July’s development camp
The future is bright indeed for Brandon Carlo. The 19-year-old is already being mentioned as a candidate for the Bruins roster based on his size, strength and upside, as long as his puck-moving skills and offensive instincts continue to improve. And there's no question the B's need a right-shot defenseman. If Carlo shows he’s ready, don’t be surprised to see the Bruins perhaps move a D-man like Adam McQuaid to make room. Either way, Carlo is tracking to be in the NHL in the next couple of years, and should be the first of the group that includes Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Charlie McAvoy and Ryan Lindgren to arrive. The big difference between Carlo and the others: He has the physical maturity to handle the rigors of the NHL right now, even at his young age.