Countdown to Bruins training camp: Brandon Carlo


The 21-year-old Carlo is a young, big and strong D-man that's had a couple of very solid NHL seasons after basically jumping from junior hockey straight to the NHL. He's basically been a top-4 defenseman since coming into the league, and was the subject of plenty of trade rumors during his first couple of seasons based on the positive way that he's seen around the league. Clearly he's not a finished product as a young player that can get better at both ends of the ice, but it says a lot about Carlo that he was as missed as he was during last season's playoffs after a late season injury.


What Happened Last Year: Carlo has decent puck-moving skills, has a good, hard and accurate shot from the point and skates well for a 6-foot-5 D-man, but finished with just six assists in 76 games last season for the Bruins. His offense took a bit of a step back being paired with Torey Krug where Carlo really had to be the defensive side of the top-4 pairing, but he also made really good strides in the defensive zone in all phases of the game. The 21-year-old began to develop a little more snarl into his defensive zone presence, and stepped up even more in the battle areas as his confidence clearly began to rise in the second half of the season. Unfortunately a fractured ankle ended Carlo's season just prior to the playoffs, and he missed out on the entire Stanley Cup playoff experience for the second season in a row. Clearly it was frustrating given the injuries, but Carlo made some good strides in becoming a more effective stay-at-home D-man during his second NHL season.

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The biggest question to be answered by Carlo is just good he can be at the young age of 21 years old. The 6-foot-5 D-man has some untapped offensive skills with pretty good skating, shooting and passing ability for a big man, but he's also never going to be a regular power play guy either. Still, he's better than the six points that he posted all of last season, and needs to continue to make strides in that area. More important than that, though, is Carlo embracing the gritty, snarling mindset of a D-zone warrior when it comes to blocking shots, playing heavy around the net and being extremely tough to play against. He's big and strong at 6-foot-5, and Carlo simply needs to keep playing up to that size and strength to become an even more effective, true shutdown D-man. Above and beyond that, it's about Carlo staying healthy and in one piece for the postseason this time around after missing each of the last two playoffs due to late season injuries.

In Their Words: "Certainly there are things that every player is looking to get better at, or improve, with each upcoming season. You see it a lot with the younger guys, but even Zdeno Chara is looking for ways to improve despite all that he's accomplished at the NHL level," said Carlo. "I want to improve a lot of things in my game. For me I think it's about playing a little grittier and just being a bit more sure of myself in all situations.
"I also want to be able to leave the mistakes behind quickly when they do come. That's something as a young guy that I think you have to learn a little bit. I've worked really hard to get to this point and I'm damn excited about this year." -Brandon Carlo, on his approach entering his third NHL season where his relative youth and his growing experience should intersect into a very good season.

Overall Outlook: Carlo is a big part of the future for the Bruins, and Boston made as much of a statement when they refused to trade him earlier in his career when a couple of interested teams came calling for him. The 6-foot-5 D-man has a bright future as a rugged, strong shutdown D-man with some modest offensive upside, and should be entering some of the best years of his career after learning a bunch of lessons in his first two NHL seasons. Carlo will also have his entry level contract finish out at the end of this season and is due for a pretty decent raise based on a couple of NHL campaigns as a top-4 D-man. How much of a raise? Well, all of that will depend on the progression he shows entering a third NHL season where many young D-man really begin to blossom and show exactly what they're going to be over the course of their NHL career.

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