( Photo Credit: Mike Stobe / NHLI )

By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff

Although the Bruins lost key players this offseason like David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, and Jaroslav Halak, Boston did make sure to resign young stud Brandon Carlo. The Bruins signed defenseman Brandon Carlo to a six-year extension worth $24.6 million, including a $4.1 million salary cap hit. A deal that is most certainly a win for the Bruins since Carlo is so young and a top defenseman in the league, $4.1 million per season, is below market value for a player who fills the role Carlo is filling. With the preseason underway and the regular season just around the corner, Carlo looks to breakthrough as one of the top defensemen in the ’21-’22 season.

Carlo Looks to have Shooter Mentatlity

While Brandon Carlo is a magnificent shutdown defenseman who defends well against some of the league’s best forwards, the 6’5″ 227 pounder also possesses an excellent ability to defend on the penalty kill, block shots, and play a physical game. But with the upcoming season rapidly approaching, Carlo wants to improve on the offensive side of the puck and is going into the ’21’22 NHL season with a “Shooter Mentality.” Thursday night, during a preseason match against the Philadelphia Flyers, Carlo smoked a shot from the right-wing circle that zoomed by Flyers goalie Martin Jones. After a training camp session at Warriors Arena on Friday, Carlo was interviewed about his goal the previous night:

“Overall, if you put pucks on net, good things happen; I want to definitely have a shooter’s mentality this year, whether it be from the point or in those areas, especially when I’m closer to the net. It worked out well, I was happy to score one, and hopefully, I have more to come in the regular season.”

If Healthy, All Things Look Good

At the end of the ’20-’21 NHL regular season, Carlo only skated for 27 games. Much of the reason was due to a concussion suffered on a hit from Tom Wilson, which marked Carlo’s fourth significant head injury since he was drafted into the league in 2016. Then, later in the Bruins postseason run, Carlo received a head hit from the Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck in game three of the second round.

The Bruins were up two games to one, but Carlo could not play the rest of the series, and the Bruins ended up losing in six games. You could very much argue that Carlo’s absence from the team was a big part of Boston’s elimination in the postseason. During the offseason, Carlo was interviewed via Zoom call about his injury history:

“I definitely recognize that these injuries can affect people in different ways, and it’s something to be taken very seriously, But for myself, with the way that I recovered from my concussions and through the injury process, I never felt, in any way, shape, or form, that my career was going to be ending any time soon. I think, just going through all of these situations, I’ve learned more and grown a lot from it. From the focal point of if it was going to affect me going forward, I don’t feel that way. I’m still a young guy; I still feel very sharp in my mind. I feel great in my body.”

For the 27 games that Carlo did lace up the skates for, he scored three goals, one assist and averaged just under 19 minutes of ice time per game. Not stellar offensive numbers, but again, Carlo makes up for it on the defensive side. In fact, when you look at the Bruins postseason series against Philadelphia, when Carlo played, the Bruins allowed just three goals per game.

In the other games when Carlo was hurt, the Bruins allowed five goals. That just goes to show how valuable Carlo is on defense. Other useful stats that Carlo posted were a 49% WAR, an 82% EV defense, and a 77% penalty kill rate. If Carlo manages to stay healthy in the future, it would be a bargain for the Bruins and a move that could provide dividends in Boston.