When Zdeno Chara left in free agency for the Washington Capitals right before the start of the 2020-21 season, it left a hole on the Boston Bruins blueline. Was Chara the same player he was when he signed with Boston in 2006? No, but he was still serviceable in certain situations.
One of the areas where Chara would have been a help for the Bruins is using his long reach and a big body to shut down the opponent’s top players. When Big Z left, there was some thought that Carlo could take over that role at 6-foot-5.
Unfortunately for the Bruins and Carlo, this is a season that the 24-year-old who is entering free agency as a restricted free agent would like to forget.
Carlo dealt with injuries like the rest of the Bruins’ defense.
Despite the season being just 56 games with new realigned divisions this year because of limited travel because of the coronavirus, Carlo joined a long list of fellow defensemen with missing lengthy amounts of time with injuries.
His first injury was when he took a high hit behind the Bruins net on March 5 by the Capitals Tom Wilson, which turned out to be a concussion, which forced Carlo out of the lineup for nearly a month. Although no penalty was called on the play, Wilson was still suspended by the NHL for seven games.
Carlo was cleared to return to the lineup on March 30 against the New Jersey Devils, but his return lasted just a game and a half when he exited the lineup on April 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins with what was later revealed to be an oblique injury. Carlo played the final few games in the regular season and made it through the first round of the playoffs against the Capitals before being knocked out for the remainder of the playoffs in the second round against the New York Islanders with another concussion.
Carlo played in just 27 games in the regular season and eight postseason games. He averaged 18:43 a night during his 27 regular-season games, but he saw an increase to 22:30 a night in the playoffs.
Along with Jeremy Lauzon, Carlo was a valuable part of the Bruins penalty-killing unit and when he was not in the lineup, his absence was felt. He was knocked out of Game 3 against the Islanders and despite the Black and Gold winning that game in overtime, they lost the last three games without Carlo in the lineup.
As stated above, Carlo is a restricted free agent this summer and he’s expected to be back with the Bruins next season, but how much longer after that? That remains to be seen as the general manager Don Sweeney has to figure out how much length they want on the contract coming off a season where Carlo suffered two concussions.