Brett Connolly, RW
Hometown: Campbell River, B.C.
Drafted: 2010 by Tampa Bay Lightning, 6th Overall
March 2015 – Brett Connolly was traded to the Boston Bruins on the March 2nd Trade Deadline for a pair of 2nd round picks (2015 and 2016). The 2010 6th overall pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning hasn't been able to carve out a scoring niche in Florida but this heavy payment from the Bruins will ensure that he will get opportunity to prove his worth in Boston. Brendan Ross
October 2014 – Connolly will start the season on Tampa Bay's roster. While other young players such as Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov were the talk of Tampa Bay's training camp, Connolly also had a strong camp. Connolly is no longer exempt from waivers, so expect him in an NHL lineup from this point on. Randall Buschmann
February 2014 – Since being sent back to Syracuse in late November, Connolly continues to show he can produce points at the American Hockey League level. However, inconsistent efforts are still apparent in the former top 10 draft pick's game. For example, he went on a scoring tear producing seven goals and 16 points in eight games from December 20th to January 8th but followed it up with only four goals and seven points in his next 11 games. Since producing a hat trick on January 18th, Connolly has one goal in his last seven games. Even though he's in a three-way tie for the team lead in points and tied for second in shots on goal, there are still rough edges to his game needing to be worked out. He's showing he can be dominate player at the AHL level in spurts but not consistently every night, which indicates barring a couple injuries to Tampa Bay's forward group, Connolly spends the rest of the season with Syracuse. As the trade deadline approaches, Connolly could be a piece Tampa Bay dangles to shore up their defense. A change of scenery may be just what the doctor ordered for Connolly, so stay tuned. Randall Buschmann
November 2013 – After performing so well in training camp and exhibition play, Connolly disappointed when recalled to Tampa Bay earlier this month and struggled with game to game consistency. In 11 games with Tampa Bay, Connolly managed just one goal, no assists, minus-5 rating and only 12 shots on goal before getting shipped back to Syracuse of the AHL. When the Lightning sought an offensive spark in the lineup it was Nikita Kucherov who was recalled, not Connolly. Connolly needs to continue to work hard to improve his overall consistency, things like keeping his feet moving on the ice and battling harder for the puck if he is to eventually stick with the Lightning. On the positive side of things, his lone goal was credited as the game winner in a game versus a powerhouse St. Louis Blues team. Randall Buschmann
October 2013 – Connolly didn't make Tampa Bay's opening night roster for the second season in a row. However, unlike last season, the decision to send Connolly to the AHL has been a controversial one, due to how well he played in training camp and preseason. The 21-year-old winger shined, scoring four goals in five games which tied him for the team lead with Steven Stamkos. New Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (Connolly's coach in the AHL last season) had nothing but positive things to say about his performance:
"To me he played himself into the conversation of being on this team full-time and I don’t think anybody in this room would have said that a year ago. He’s taken unbelievable strides in his development and I’m really proud of him."
Ultimately, Connolly is a victim of the dreaded numbers game, as the Lightning have a wealth of scoring depth up front. He'll be back with Tampa Bay at some point this season but for how long remains to be seen. Still, his fantasy value has increased significantly due to him clearly taking the next step in his development. Randy Buschmann
April 2012 – Brett Connolly is a very fast and powerful skater, with a quick and lethal shot who can score goals in bunches. Connolly has a knack for finding the open areas of the ice and displays above average hockey sense in all aspects of the game. After spending most of 2011-12 season with Tampa Bay, Lightning management decided it would be best for his long-term development to spend the majority of the 2012-13 season in Syracuse. This season, Connolly has played top line minutes and all game situations for the Crunch. He’s also shown more willingness to play physical and improved defensively. Connolly’s 27 goals and 57 points is second on the team in both categories. After the Lightning traded Cory Conacher to Ottawa, they finally recalled Connolly from Syracuse. Through four games he has no points and only eight shots on goal. Randy Buschmann
Fantasy Outlook: A-
Going from a full-time NHLer playing a limited role, to a full-time AHLer playing a major role has seemingly had a very positive effect on Connolly’s character and development. The Lightning are very high on the young winger and have voiced their intentions to be patient with him. They believe he has legitimate 1st line potential, and fantasy GM’s should treat him no differently. The dilemma right now is Tampa Bay has so much scoring depth.
Connolly with nifty shootout goal
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