The Boston Bruins locked up their last remaining restricted free agent on Tuesday morning when they inked Brandon Carlo to a two-year deal. The agreement gives the Bruins a full stable of defensemen with just over two weeks to go until opening night. For Carlo, the agreement gives him a chance to complete some unfinished business. Injury issues plagued his first two trips to the playoffs. Carlo finally played a key role last spring in the Boston Bruins march to the Final. Going so far and coming up so short can mentally wear on a player. For Carlo, it provided motivation to comeback to Boston and finish the job.
“Throughout this experience and especially last year, we have a lot of unfinished business that we have to get buttoned up here, and hopefully we can do that within my time here in the next couple of years,” Carlo told the media on Tuesday afternoon.
Carlo is expected to hold down a top-four role on the Bruin depth chart. He’ll skate with the likes of Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug. It’s a tight group that Carlo loves being part of as well as being part of the city of Boston.
“I love it in this city, love being a part of it, love all of you guys. Happy to be here,” he said
The growth of Carlo’s game in the playoffs was obvious. After an up-and-down regular season, he was one of Bruce Cassidy’s most reliable options in April and May. That has a lot to do with his confidence after finally getting into playoff action.
“Overall, my confidence level has grown huge, especially throughout the playoffs last year, just getting that experience,” began Carlo when asked if he feels the growth in his game. “With every little bit of experience I continue to grow in that regard mentally. I didn’t expect the NHL to be this mentally tough when I first came in. Had great guidance through that time period with the older guys on our team, but certainly needed to get a grasp on it for myself.”
Carlo will face another huge mental hurdle this season. After falling in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, he and his teammates must find a way to turn the page to 2019-20. It’s an issue many Bruins have already talked about in fall.
What’s the next step for Carlo? The obvious answer? That he and the rest of the Bruins want to handle the “unfinished business” of winning the Stanley Cup. Personally, however, what are Carlo’s goals moving forward?
“I’ve talked to Butchy (Bruce Cassidy), Sweens, different people and the offensive side of my game,” he said. “I feel like I can get up in the rush a little bit more and contribute and I think with confidence I’ll recognize that more on the ice.”
If Carlo can take that next step offensively, he and the Bruins will be that much closer to handling their unfinished business.