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NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Brandon Carlo

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June 8, 2015


Get to Know Brandon Carlo:

Date of Birth: 26th November, 1996
Place of Birth: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Ht: 6’5″ Wt: 185 lbs
Shoots: R
Position: Defense
Team: Tri-City Americans (WHL)

It’s difficult to miss Brandon Carlo, given the Colorado native’s size. His lanky 6’5″ frame towered over most of his teammates on team USA at the 2015 World Junior Championships. But while size certainly matters in hockey, Carlo’s smooth skating and his excellent defensive acumen are the assets that are likely to see him drafted in the first or second round. He’s an adaptive talent that reacts quickly and reads the play well in all three zones to play a brutally effective shutdown game. Add in a respectable skill level with stick work and an attitude that has been described as both “mean” and “nasty” and the justifications for Carlo’s mid-twenties rankings become readily apparent.

Carlo is a product of the quietly excellent Colorado Thunderbirds development program. He’s a familiar face to those who follow the Thunderbirds, which has produced a handful of recent NHL draftees including rising star NHL defenseman Seth Jones. Carlo wore the C for a season for the T-Birds, then eventually earned an A letter for the WHL’s Tri-City Americans as well. In spite of his “nasty” streak, Carlo is a calm, competent defender with leadership experience and very few weaknesses in his defensive game, signifying a hockey mentality that’s a notch above his peers.


What Scouts See:

NHL Central Scouting’s John Williams:

“He’s a really good skater and has great mobility for a player his size. The reach and range are there. He handles the puck well and is one of the best guys I’ve seen this year at being able to pass off the boards to a teammate.”

Cody Nickolet, Scout from Future Considerations Hockey:

Brandon Carlo is a bit of a throwback defender. He’s a big and rangy defender with a bit of snarl to his game. He skates extremely well for his 6’5 frame and that alone is enough to draw interest from NHL clubs. Don’t expect much offence from him, though. His hands are a definite work in progress even though his shot and ability to advance the puck get a passing grade for the junior level.

Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports:

Normally known as a shutdown defensive defenseman, Carlo has added some offensive punch with 21 points in 45 games this year. He has greatly improved his stickhandling, poise with the puck, and his passing skills. Carlo is now waiting an extra second with the puck on his stick and making the smart pass on the breakout or in the offensive zone, instead of looking to get it out of the zone, or dumping it into the corner.

What BSN Avalanche Sees:

The hype about Carlo’s skating is real. Perhaps he just looks that much more controlled and graceful due to his larger frame, but he skates like he’s a year older than most of his Tri-City Americans teammates. He uses his body effectively both to shield the puck while carrying and strip it away from the opposition.

During his play with Team USA at the 2015 World Juniors, Carlo generated turnovers both with his active stickwork and by simple virtue of being unafraid to get right up in the face of his competitors.

Carlo has been described as having a nasty, almost-dirty streak and the numerous fight highlights available on YouTube would back that up, however after reviewing much of his footage from the World Juniors, I have to say he seems capable of reeling it in. In the ten games he’s played at international tournaments, Carlo has acquired a whopping two total penalty minutes. He seems capable of putting his agitator streak on the backburner when the time comes to play effective defense.

One aspect of Carlo’s game that scouting reports seem to gloss over–though they do at least mention it’s good–is Carlo’s passing ability. He reads opposition passes well and uses the same intuition to dish accurate passes to his teammates.

Watching him from the point of view of zone entries and exits, Carlo is a delight. He can zip the puck beautifully into the zone when his team is in possession, then absolutely annihilate opposition players when they try to do the same. He uses his big body as a shield to carry the puck in deep, but if an opponent tries that when he’s on the ice, they might end up stripped of the puck or potentially flattened.

Outside of the unusually high-level talent of this year’s top prospects, I’d rank Carlo as one of the class of 2015 whose game looks the most complete.


NHL Potential:

Carlo’s game has been compared to Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn by more than one source, but after watching him myself, I see a closer NHL analogue in players like Tyler Myers and Jan Hejda. That isn’t to say that Carlo will attain that level quickly–or even at all–but he’s a low-risk prospect with an excellent chance of seeing at least a few hundred NHL games.

His size and skating put him ahead of the pack and he can fill a definite need for a team whose defense is either weak or trends toward the two-way/scoring variety (see: Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche). His ceiling may not be as high as some of this year’s exceptional crop of defense prospects, but a large chunk of his game looks tantalisingly NHL-ready.

Expected Draft Position:

Many mock drafts have Carlo going mid-to-late first round, but depending on whether the 2015 NHL Draft is forward- or defenseman-heavy in its early picks, Carlo could potentially slip as low as the early second round. I say potentially because any team that picks him up in the second round would be getting an absolute steal.

Certain teams looking for defensemen that will pad their point totals might pass him up, so BSN Avalanche predicts he’ll go between 20 and 35.

How Brandon Carlo Fits into the Avalanche Organization:

A 6’5″ body with an airtight defensive strategy is the sort of player who’d already be on Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy’s radar, given the way they are building the Avalanche’s blue line. However, Carlo’s high-above-average skating skills and his Erik Johnson-esque slapshot catapult him up the ranks of defenders the Avs are likely taking interest in. Combine that with the fact that he’s a Colorado native and I’m certain he’s on Sakic and Roy’s radar. But given the Avs pick 10th overall, it’s likely they will focus on acquiring a big winger to fill a current need.

If Carlo slipped to round two, the Avalanche would be wise to pick him up. Skating is often the most difficult aspect of the game to develop in a defenseman Carlo’s size and he’s starting a half-step ahead of similar defenders in that department. Carlo could eventually develop into a top-four shutdown NHL defender, the sort of player who’d pair excellently with a smaller, offensively-minded defenseman like Tyson Barrie.

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