BOSTON - Brandon Carlo is coming back to Boston with a new contract, some new goals, and, maybe, a new hairstyle.
"Looking at this Zoom call, I don't know if I'll go with a big purchase right off the bat, but probably my first payment will be a haircut," joked Carlo while speaking with the media Wednesday afternoon.
Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney announced on Wednesday that Boston's 37th overall pick from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft signed a six-year contract extension to keep him in the black and gold through the end of the 2026-27 season.
"This is a huge day for me and my family," said Carlo. "I'm obviously very excited, and I just wanted to get the thank yous going through. The Jacobs family, I'm very thankful for this opportunity. Don Sweeney, Cam Neely, everybody in the Bruins organization, especially my teammates - couldn't have done it without them.
"Especially, for my family, this is very huge and I just want to thank my mom, my dad, my fiancé, and just all of them for supporting me along the way. The coaching staff and everybody has done a great job with me over the past couple of years to help me develop and get to this point."
A mainstay on Boston's blueline for the past five seasons, Carlo has played in 324 career NHL games, all with the Bruins. Since making his debut at the start of the 2016-17 season, the Colorado Springs native has recorded 55 points (15G, 40A) and ranks second on the B's in shorthanded time on ice (908:57), fourth in games played, fifth in time on ice per game (20:13) and tied for fifth in plus-minus (plus-58).
Carlo's 2020-21 season came to an end after sustaining an injury in Game 3 of the Bruins playoff series with the Islanders, but the time off has served him well and has him ready to go for the start of the 2021-22 season.
"I'm feeling over the moon today, but in general, before all this contract stuff, I've been feeling very good," said Carlo. "I've been feeling great, completely back to normal, 100 percent for, I would say, well over a month and a half now.
"My recovery was pretty quick within that guideline, and I felt very good. Everything is good there; training has been going well. That hasn't thrown me off in any way. I'm just continuing to excel in that and I'm feeling really good."
As things continue to trend towards a return to normalcy in North America, the reinstatement of previously aligned divisions appears to be a very real possibility for the NHL. That could mean a return to a strong Atlantic Division, a challenge that Carlo welcomes with open arms.
If the division returns in the same capacity as the 2019-20 season, it will once again contain eight teams: the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the two teams who just recently finished competing in the Stanley Cup Final - the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. In total, four of those eight teams competed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
"I think our division has probably been at the top for the past couple of years," said Carlo. "We've never shied away from that.
"I think it's great, because that challenge throughout the season will only help us get into the postseason, playing those teams. You obviously have the same goal in mind every year, and that's something that we definitely want to accomplish.
"I love the component of having those guys within our division. Both of those teams - they obviously showed up very well this year in the playoffs and during the season. I think the Boston Bruins are very good at embracing the challenge and I know the guys within the room love that as well. I wouldn't want it any other way."
Still just 24 years old, Carlo's contributions to the Bruins organization have gone well beyond the stat sheet. When David Krejci was unable to suit up for last season's outdoor game at Lake Tahoe due to injury, Carlo entered the locker room to see an "A" sewn onto his jersey in what he called "probably the biggest honor of my life."
Now with six years ahead of him in Boston, Carlo sees a great opportunity to continue his growth as a leader for his team
"There's a lot more room for that going forward," said Carlo. "I think this contract kind of reflects on that. I'm excited for that opportunity. It's always something that I feel like I kind of had a little bit within me, is the leadership component.
"I just want to continue to grow in that regard. The responsibility comes with this deal, being with the terms and whatnot, to step up in that way, and I fully plan to. Huge compliment by the organization and by Don and everybody to recognize that within me, and that definitely made me feel good."
Carlo's career in the Bruins organization began in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins during the 2015-16 season. After representing his country with Team USA and winning a bronze medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, Carlo returned to the states and played in his first professional hockey game with the P-Bruins on April 1, 2016. He went on to play in seven regular season contests and one playoff game with Providence to close out the season.
Fast forward six months and the then-19-year-old Carlo was set to make his NHL debut in Columbus, Ohio at Nationwide Arena against the Blue Jackets. The Bruins went on to win the game 6-3 with a dazzling opening act from Carlo, who recorded his first NHL point (an assist), 17:48 of ice time, and a still career-high plus-five rating.
"I remember I was sitting in the car with Danton Heinen and Rob O'Gara right before our first year," reminisced Carlo. "We were talking about how we were about to play our first NHL games and how exciting that was, and, I was just saying, 'If I can just play one NHL game, I would feel very good about that.'
"Because it's such an amazing goal, and to be able to get to this point and for my goals to grow as a player being in this league, I would say that at that point, I was just focused on trying to stay around for five games or ten games.
"Now I'm starting to develop the confidence where I feel like I can really grow into a lethal player in this league and that's exciting for me, for sure. As I look back on it, it's fun to think about where I was and where I am now. And I feel very good about where I am now."
With a brand new, six-year deal signed, it's safe to say the Bruins feel very good about where Carlo is now, too.