Brandon Carlo is not the top-four defenseman the Bruins thought he’d be

Boston Bruins, Brandon Carlo (Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Bruins, Brandon Carlo (Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) /

When the Boston Bruins drafted defenseman Brandon Carlo out of the Western Hockey League in 2015 (2nd round, 37th overall), it proved to be one of the few, if not only, bright spots that day in the now-infamous draft for the franchise in the Don Sweeney-era.

And rightly so, as at the time, the big (6-foot-5) and then-very mobile (at just 185 pounds) defensive prospect racked up three consecutive 25+ point campaigns in four WHL seasons with the Tri-City Americans. As such, it stands to reason that Bruins GM Don Sweeney and the entire front office, for that matter, likely thought they were getting an even bigger and faster version of Alex Pietrangelo in the 20-year old Colorado Springs, CO native.

Funnily enough, though in very short spurts and in even shorter supply, the Bruins kind of did get that in him, if only for a little while anyway.

After Brandon Carlo’s rookie year, his trajectory has gone a bit downhill ever since

In his first season in the NHL as a Bruin, Carlo had one of the best in his NHL career with 16 points (6 goals and 10 assists), 115 blocks, 87 hits with a plus-9 rating in 20:49 of ice time through a full 82 games played but was concussed by season’s end. His second and third seasons, however, were wholly unremarkable, a ramification of lingering concussion effects no doubt, as he finished with 16 points total through 148 games.

Then, during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 NHL season, Carlo had a bit of a bounce-back year with 19 points (4 goals and 13 assists), 76 blocks, and 126 hits in 67 contests. But, of course, more concussion problems reoccurred for him as well.

Despite his increase in scoring production (13 points) and average defensive statistics (88 blocks, 107 hits, and a plus-3 rating) this season, Carlo, in the eyes of many B’s fans since the Tom Wilson hit he suffered last postseason, is still playing too timidly, which makes sense given his concussion history, no matter how cavalier the player might be about it.

But fans, let alone coaches and GMs, do not want a player, especially a defenseman, who plays ‘scared.’

Causeway Crowd
Causeway Crowd /

Want your voice heard? Join the Causeway Crowd team!

Write for us!

It would be best for the Bruins to move on from Brandon Carlo this offseason

And so, unsurprisingly, the chorus of support for Sweeney to trade Carlo this offseason, or at some other point in the near future, is starting to get a little bit louder. As it should because what sense does it make to pay a big blueliner, with concussion issues, $24M/year over six years, whose pro game is neither physically dominant nor offensively gifted?