Brandon Carlo - Defense
After stepping into the NHL during the 2016-2017 season and playing his entire rookie season alongside Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo had to carve out a new role during the 2017-2018 campaign. Charlie McAvoy replaced Carlo on the top defense pair with Chara, leaving Carlo without a clear spot on the blueline.
At the start of the season, Carlo spent time playing on the bottom pair with Kevan Miller, who shifted to the left side. But when Adam McQuaid suffered a broken leg just two weeks into the season, Carlo was elevated to the middle pairing to play alongside Torey Krug. The Krug-Carlo pair really struggled for the first few weeks, which did not come as a surprise as both had no experience playing on the same defense pair.
Carlo had an interesting season. He surprised just about everyone when he made the team last year and put up 16 points as a rookie. Fans even labeled him as “untouchable” after his name came up in trade rumors regarding Gabriel Landeskog and Jacob Trouba. But this past season, a lot of those people who praised Carlo early on changed their thoughts completely.
It took a while for Carlo to find his stride in 2017-2018. He had his fair share of terrible passes, head-scratching plays, and inopportune tumbles. He had some ugly nights. He was benched for periods of certain games. His clumsiness with the puck often led to goals against. The “sophomore slump” hit Carlo hard.
Carlo lacked the confidence he possessed in his first season. There is no question about it. The swagger he carried as a rookie was admirable, and it showed on the ice. He was reliable, good on the penalty kill, and held his own while playing on the top D-pair. He did not have that same demeanor last season. He inconsistent play and failure to establish himself as a physical presence even led to his first career scratch on February 25 in Buffalo.
But at the same time, people are forgetting that Carlo is only 21-years-old. All young players go through slumps. I think certain fans just had a tough time accepting Carlo’s struggles because he had such a strong rookie season, which is reasonable in some cases. But even when Carlo played well, people found every little reason to criticize him. His mistakes were bad, and costly at times, but he regained his stride during the second half of the season and was beginning to look like his normal self.
And then right when Carlo started to look like his normal self, he suffered a gruesome ankle injury that ended his season and caused him to miss the playoffs for the second straight year.
Last year, the Bruins could have used Carlo against Ottawa. And this year, they definitely could have used his services against Toronto and Tampa Bay. It’s hard not to feel for the kid. Playing 158 games over two seasons and not being able to suit up in the postseason has got to be frustrating.
Aggregate Grade: C+
Carlo’s early season struggles never really went away, but when they did, he got hurt and was done for the season. But overall, he had some good moments and some bad moments. Unfortunately, the bad moments outnumbered the good and caused a lot of people to forget all the promise he showed as a rookie.
Last season was a learning curve for Carlo. I am sure he knows he has to be better this coming season after a “sophomore slump” brought his play down for much of the 2017-2018 campaign. However, Carlo has had plenty of time to put last season in the past and prepare for the upcoming season, so don’t be surprised if Carlo learned from his mistakes and rebounds in 2018-2019.
Do you agree with Carlo’s grade?
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