(Fred Kfoury III/Icon sportswire)
By Court Lalonde
When Peter Chiarelli traded Johnny Boychuk on October 4th, 2014, all of Causeway Street was up in arms. He traded the defensemen for two second-round picks in 2015 and 2016, and it looked like Chiarelli gave him away to the New York Islanders. We can’t say that Chiarelli knew what he was doing and at the end of that season was relieved of his duties. Don Sweeney took over the GM duties of the Boston Bruins after the departure of Chiarelli and selected Brandon Carlo with the 37th pick of the 2015 National Hockey League entry draft. That was one of the picks the Bruins obtained in the Boychuk trade from the Islanders. The 6’5′ Carlo was projected at the time to be a top four defensemen in the NHL but would be a project and wouldn’t be NHL ready until at least 2018 according to most scouts. He wasn’t even the highest rated defensemen that drafted that year on their depth charts, which was first-round pick Jakub Zboril, who Bruins selected with their 13th overall pick.
Carlo would surprise us all and make the Bruins at the beginning of the 2016 season, right out of training camp. He didn’t just make the team but also earn a spot on the top pairing alongside team captain Zdeno Chara. Being paired with Chara has been a learning experience, and couldn’t have lucked out with a better teacher. Bruins fans started to like Carlo early because he registered an assist in his first game and scored in his second. He was able to move the opposing player away from the front of the net with his size and was able to move the puck the ice quickly to create scoring chances.
Carlo’s November showed us the potential we had with this rookie defensemen, and it became apparent that he was our future on the backend. If you look at his stats from the 15 games in November, the Bruins played you would never second guess his top pair status. During the 15 game period, he registered three points with a plus-five rating. The next couple month we have a different story because the play from the Bruins became very inconsistent, showing Carlo’s flaws which every rookie has. We started to see Carlo second guess himself and get caught out of position, and his lack of confidence with the puck caused he to dump it or give it away. It didn’t help that the media was speculating that he would trade him to the Colorado Avalanche for Gabriel Landeskog.
To Sweeney’s credit, he pushed those rumors aside and let the media know that he wasn’t trading Carlo. Sweeney said. “We want to be a team that believes it has internal fixes, which you are growing those players.” The trade deadline came and went, and so did Carlo’s first head coach Claude Julien, who was fired a couple weeks before. Julien was replaced by Bruce Cassidy, and that hasn’t change Carlo’s status as part of the top pairing beside Chara.
Carlo is having a great rookie campaign and people need to realize that he is going to make some mistakes from time to time, it’s what rookie do. I think he is going to be one of the cornerstones on the Bruins backend for years to come. Not every good defenseman shoots the lights out in his rookie year. Victor Hedman, who I feel Carlo plays a lot like only scored 20 points and was a minus-three in his rookie year. Carlo is part of the future for the Bruins, and that a good thing.