Brandon Carlo – 52 Games – Four Goals, Eight Assists, 12 points – ATOI: 21:30
Brandon Carlo is 20-years-old. Not many teams can boast a 20-year-old playing top-pairing minutes, but the Boston Bruins are fortunate enough to do so. Despite the many struggles that the team has dealt with, Carlo has been a bright spot. A beacon of light of things to come for a team in dire need of a remodeled defensive grouping.
Carlo is an example of a young player who has done it right. After being drafted in the second round in 2015, Carlo worked hard to show the Bruins that he was close to NHL-ready. In doing so, he earned a contract and earned an opportunity with the Providence Bruins to close out the season. Ultimately, Carlo earned a job on the starting roster this season, and he hasn’t looked back. While many look at Claude Julien and criticize his ability to utilize young players, Carlo debunks that theory. Young players can play under Julien, they just need to earn the time.
For Carlo, there have been ups-and-downs. There’s no denying that he has work to do to become a legitimate No. 1, shutdown defender. Still, his ability to learn from his mistakes has been apparent all year. He’s brought new life into captain Zdeno Chara on the team’s top pairing, which has also given Carlo an opportunity to learn from one of the best in history.
Carlo likely won’t ever been a legitimate offensive threat. The system is full of players that could be, however. From Torey Krug and Colin Miller to Charlie McAvoy and Jeremy Lauzon – there is offensive potential. Jakub Zboril plays a hybrid role, but Carlo represents the team’s only real defenseman in the mold of a shutdown defender.
Carlo is getting the opportunity to shine, and he’s made the best of it so far. So long as he remains a member of the team past this season, the Bruins may very well have their heir apparent to Chara.