HockeyProspect.com intern Angela Salerno recently spoke to 2015 NHL Draft prospect Brandon Carlo from the Tri-City Americans. Carlo is projected as a possible 1st round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft.
As an American, who was a first round draft pick in the USHL and a 10th rounder in the WHL, why did you choose the WHL route?
For me overall I took my time with all the decisions and things like that. I went and experienced the USHL camp and I also went and toured a couple colleges. But with the way I was progressing as a player, and my ultimate goal at the end of all this with hockey is making the NHL, I felt that coming to the WHL would give me most likely the best shot at that, with my size. So ultimately I wanted to focus on my main goal of making that National Hockey League and I think that’s what kinda swayed my decision.
How has the WHL developed your game?
I feel like I’ve developed a lot as a player here. We’ve had phenomenal coaches and a phenomenal organization both years, but ultimately I feel like for a player its the amount of work he wants to put in. So off the ice I’ve gotten a lot better and on the ice I have developed my skills quite a bit just with my skating and everything like that.
Did you find any difficulty adjusting to this league?
Yeah, obviously the speed bumped up really fast for me from midget hockey, but I felt like I was capable of playing at this level right when I came in. In my first game I had a really good time and just tried to play more of a simple game, and I feel like that’s the pro style of the game that I would like to play. So yeah, it was a little bit faster but ultimately I think I did a pretty good job adjusting.
If you could be paired with any defenseman in the WHL, who would it be?
I’d probably pick a guy like Josh Morrissey, I played against him at the World Juniors for Canada. He’s a really offensive guy and I feel like we would compliment each other well cause I’m more of a defensive defenseman. I would be able to look out for him and let him do his thing and go up in the rush, and I feel like he’s an unbelievable offensive defence man, so I feel I would be a good compliment to him.
Who are some of the harder forwards to defend against?
There’s obviously quite a few guys in this league who are pretty skilled and unbelievable. There’s guys like Oliver Bjorkstrand, Nick Petan and also Leon Draisaitl and guys like that. They all have different keys to their game that make them so good. For instance with Bjorkstrand and Petan, they’re both small guys but have great vision and move the puck really well. Those guys on the ice together are very lethal. And Draisaitl as well, he’s a bigger guy, obviously an NHL body and he’s harder to play against because of his skill and strength.
What do you think is the strongest part of your game?
I feel like the defensive aspect of my game is the strongest part. I feel like I handle myself pretty well in the defensive zone. I ultimately like to be a simple puck moving defenseman who does his job in the D zone and kinda gets in people’s faces a little bit.
What aspects of your game are you working to improve?
There’s a lot of things, moving the puck up. I feel like I occasionally force passes, I feel like I’m definitely capable of making passes, but definitely occasionally force passes, so that’s been something I’ve been trying to work on. On this team this year, I’m trying to generate a little more offence in my game, getting up in the play a tiny bit more, but ultimately I feel like the defensive aspect of my game is the best part so I try and stick with that and be simple.
How does your size effect your game?
I feel like being a bigger guy (6’5, 185lbs) it definitely gives me more confidence and more capability of being a grittier guy. I can be all over the small guys and use my reach to my advantage with my long stick. I like the way I use my poke check and things like that.
You’re an assistant captain for Tri-City, have you had to adjust to a leadership role or did it come naturally?
Looking to come into this year, I wanted to be more of a leader on the team. I was a captain of my team in Midget, and I had a little bit of experience there. But coming in and being an assistant I felt has been very helpful to me, looking after our captain, Justin Hamonic who is an unbelievable captain, I’ve learned a lot from him. But ultimately I felt like I led in my own certain way and I can learn a lot from the captain if I might pursue that roll later on in this career of mine in the WHL
How was the World Juniors experience for you and what lessons did you take away from it?
The World Juniors was an absolute honour to be selected by Team USA and going through all the camps and things like that I had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit. I feel as a player I learned more of my pro style game that I would like to play and that would be a simple puck moving defenseman, that is obviously more defensive and overall I take from the experience that. But I felt like I handled myself pretty well there against the top talent in the world and I had a lot of fun. All my respects to Team USA and all the guys there.
What elements of you game do you think make you ready for the next level?
I feel like my defensive skill and then the size of my body and things like that I feel like I have more of an NHL type style body. But my skating and my defensive skill are things that I think will be a key thing at the next level
What has been your biggest obstacle you’ve had to deal with in hockey?
This is a hard one for me to answer, I feel like I have been really blessed with everything in my entire life and haven’t had anything really hard. Overall I guess with just making the decision of coming to the WHL being a U.S. kid, it grows interest in different people in the wrong ways, so it was hard to to be judged at that point, but I’ve never been happier with my decision.