Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney has been a very busy man over the last couple of days. After signing defenseman Charlie McAvoy to a three-year contract worth a total of $14.7 million on Sunday, he locked up another young blueliner on Tuesday morning.
The team announced that they have signed Brandon Carlo to a bridge contract that will pay him a total of $5.7 million over the next two seasons.
In about 48 hours, Sweeney was able to shore up his defensive corps by inking the last two restricted free agents that remained unsigned heading into training camp. Both Carlo and McAvoy were able to agree to very team-friendly bridge deals.
“Very, very important day for us…a big, big part of our club. Very excited to bring him back in the fold,” Sweeney said of Carlo during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Carlo Has Become an Important Piece of the Puzzle
Carlo was originally drafted by the Bruins in the second round (37th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Since making his NHL debut on opening night of the 2016-17 season, Carlo has played in 230 of a possible 246 regular-season games. He has scored eight goals, added 24 assists and leads all Bruins players over the past three seasons with a plus-41 rating.
His rookie season was his most successful as far as scoring goes as he put up six goals and a career-high 16 points. He has a combined 16 points over the last two seasons.
Last season he was fourth on the team in average ice time with 20:55 per game. He led all defensemen with 134 hits and was second on the team with 88 blocked shots in 72 games. Carlo set career-high marks with 43 takeaways and a 52.9 Corsi For percentage (CF%). He has proven to be one of the Bruins best “stay-at-home” defenders and smartest players on the blue line over the past three seasons.
Bruins Set up Well for the Future
Sweeney has done a very good job of securing some important pieces from last season’s Eastern Conference winning team. He was able to sign his three restricted free agents on the cheap by locking up Carlo, McAvoy and forward Danton Heinen. The trio will have a combined $10.5 million salary cap hit this season. Sweeney will still have about $1.15 million in salary-cap space heading into the start of the regular season.
Carlo and Heinen’s deals will expire following the 2020-21 season and by then the current veteran contracts of forwards David Backes, David Krejci and goaltender Tukka Rask will all be off the books. This will free up $20.25 million in cap space to help sign this trio to long-term deals with significant pay raises if they choose too.
This deal will allow Carlo to continue his growth and progress as a defensive and physical player. The Bruins look at him as the heir apparent to Zdeno Chara as far as being the big and mean player on the back end, who is a beast to play against in his zone. He will still be a restricted free agent when this deal expires, but if he continues to develop, he will have all the leverage when it comes to his next deal because Chara will likely be gone after the next two seasons.
Carlo met with the Boston media shortly after his new contract was made official. He was very happy to be getting back onto the ice with his teammates.
“I was getting really antsy. I couldn’t get comfortable on the couch the last couple of days,” he said with a smile. “I feel very blessed to be part of this city. I love this city, love being part of everything here.
“I want to grow the physicality part of my game and hopefully the offensive side too.”
When asked about the relatively short length of his contract he said that he remembered some advice teammate Sean Kuraly recently gave him by always “bet on yourself.” That is exactly what Carlo is doing and the payoff could be big for both him and the Bruins going forward.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.