Brandon Carlo certainly made the most of his first year in the NHL.
Getting his job out of camp, Brandon Carlo’s positive first impression was only made better by the fact that he kept making that impression over and over again by taking both insane minutes and stepping up to the task. In year one.
It helps that Carlo had a hell of a partner in Zdeno Chara, but he was capable from the start; able to hold his own in keeping shots down, protecting Rask, retrieving pucks along the boards, extending offensive cycling, smart passing skill, and occasionally scoring when needed, with quite a shot he has on hand.
It also helped that up until the very end, Carlo was one of the few players who were constants in the sometimes injury marked roster, week in, week out, regardless of circumstance until Ovechkin clobbered him, finishing his season in a heartbreaking fashion, putting him out of action for the entire playoffs and, like several players out for the postseason, Boston suffered for having lost them. And to that point, he logged the third highest amount of time on ice across all situations, and the most at 5 on 5. That is incredible trust put into such a young player.
And of course, he’s been...well...a rookie. He still has holes in his game and that’s fine for right now.
For one thing, he had the worst CF% on the team for defenseman this year, but was still over 50%, which is...fine, I guess, given that puck possession was a team and individual player strength this year, but it became kind of clear that Carlo did occasionally need to be bailed out, or in some bad cases, carried by his defense partner.
One major gap in his game related to this is that occasionally he has the problem of actually keeping the puck in the offensive zone and sometimes that can get him into trouble, especially when it comes to getting back on breakaway chances. And his defense partner? 40 and huge. He’s not getting back for that either, which led to some...less than okay breaks for the opposing team.
And of course there was this:
That was kind of embarrassing.
But again, he’s a rookie. He’s going to make mistakes and learn from them. He’ll have plenty of time to improve and be a better player. He’ll have plenty of time to figure it out, as the Bruins have him on salary for below 800k until 2019.
On top of that, he may find his spot in the lineup in flux due to an influx of talent entering the system, specifically one Charlie McAvoy, who will make creating defense pairings post-expansion draft a heck of a lot of fun for Boston.
Grade: The sweet spot between B-/C+
Carlo still has a ways to go, but he showed that he could weather some of the ugliest minutes the team could throw at him. That’s a positive sign in the coming season, now he needs to tighten up some of the loose ends in his game. I for one am excited for another 82 games of him, because there is a lot of positive stuff to like about his game right now. Some recovery, and a good camp in a much deeper system ought to do him a lot of good.
Games Played: 82
Final Aggregate CF%: 52.14%
What do you think of Carlo’s grade?
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