Brett Connolly (born May 2, 1992) is a Canadian professional ice hockey player currently playing for the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League (NHL). During his major junior career with the Prince George Cougars, he was named Western Hockey League (WHL) and Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Rookie of the Year for the 2008–09 season. Selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he joined the team in 2011–12. He was later traded to the Boston Bruins, following which he was traded to the Washington Capitals prior to the 2016–17 season. Connolly won the Stanley Cup in 2018 with the Capitals.
Connolly with the Bruins in 2015
May 2, 1992|
Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)|
Tampa Bay Lightning
6th overall, 2010|
Tampa Bay Lightning
Raised in Prince George, British Columbia, Connolly was selected by his hometown Prince George Cougars as their first selection, tenth overall, in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft. As a 15-year-old, he played major midget for the Caribou Cougars in Prince George, while also appearing in four WHL games. He joined the WHL's Cougars full-time in 2008–09, scoring 30 goals and 30 assists in 65 games. In doing so, he became the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals in the WHL since Patrick Marleau performed the feat in 1995–96. He was named the winner of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as WHL rookie of the year. The recognition made him one of three nominees for the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Rookie of the Year; he beat-out the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)'s Dmitri Kulikov and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)'s Evgeny Grachyov for the national distinction.
Conolly's second full WHL season was marred with hip problems. He played in just 12 of the Cougars' first 46 games and was sidelined from December 2009 before returning for the last four contests of the regular season. He was named to play in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game, but did not participate. He recorded 19 points over 16 games.
Connolly was highly ranked for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was listed as the sixth-best player amongst North American skaters for the draft in the International Scouting Services' midterm rankings and finished the season 13th among all skaters. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranked him fourth overall amongst North American skaters in their midterm rankings, before moving him up a spot in their final rankings. The Hockey News listed him at fourth overall in their list end-of-year list. Scouts described Connolly as a natural leader with good on-ice awareness who plays in the style of a power forward. Connolly compared himself to Columbus Blue Jackets power forward Rick Nash. Connolly was selected sixth overall in the draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Attending his first NHL training camp in September 2010, Connolly was returned to the Cougars to continue developing at the major junior level for the 2010–11 season. Whilst playing in his fourth WHL season, he was named captain of the Cougars and recorded 73 points over 59 games, leading his team in scoring.
Connolly made the Lightning's NHL roster in October 2011 out of training camp. He then scored his first career NHL goal on November 1 against Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes. His first professional season, however, was interrupted when he was loaned to Team Canada for a second-straight appearance at the IIHF World U20 Championships.
On January 10, 2012, Prince George traded Connolly's WHL rights to the Tri-City Americans in exchange for a bantam draft pick and two conditional draft picks should Connolly return to the WHL; the condition was never met. Connolly finished his rookie NHL season with 68 games played and 15 points scored (four goals and 11 assists).
On September 14, 2012, the Tampa Bay Lightning assigned Connolly, as well as 17 others, to the American Hockey League (AHL)'s Syracuse Crunch during the 2012–13 NHL lockout. On April 4, 2013, Tampa recalled Connolly from the Crunch. In the AHL, he appeared in 67 games, registering 27 goals and 57 points to go along with a +15 plus-minus rating and 51 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the Syracuse roster in both goals and points, and third for assists with 30. After a five-game stint in which he scored one goal, on April 12, the Lightning reassigned Connolly back to the AHL. Connolly would then remain with Syracuse, where he helped the Crunch reach the Calder Cup Final against the Grand Rapids Griffins, though the team would be defeated in the six-game series.
In preparation for the upcoming 2013–14 season, Connolly had a strong training camp with the Lightning, scoring four goals during the pre-season. However, on September 29, Tampa Bay assigned Connolly to Syracuse as the team finalized its NHL roster. Connolly's demotion was in large part due to the impressive play of rookies Tyler Johnson, Ondřej Palát and Richard Pánik, who as a line had posted five goals and ten points in four pre-season games; the line was expected to serve as Tampa's third line, thereby relegating Connolly to limited fourth line minutes. Explaining the demotion, Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman stated, "I don't want Brett playing on the fourth line. I want him playing a lot of minutes, he's got to go [to Syracuse] and be our top guy, be a leader and carry the team, if need be. That's another step for him. There's no plan to leave him there for any period of time."
On October 17, however, the Lightning recalled Connolly from Syracuse, appearing in one game with the team before again being reassigned on October 20. On October 31, the Tampa recalled Connolly, where he played in six games, scoring game-winning goal against the St. Louis Blues on November 2 before being demoted again on November 22. Connolly was named to the 2014 AHL All-Stars roster. He finished his NHL season with 11 games played and one goal scored while also playing in 66 AHL games, scoring 21 goals and 57 points, leading the Crunch in the latter statistic.
On July 10, 2014, the Lightning re-signed Connolly to a one-year, two-way contract. On October 24, Connolly played in the first period against the Winnipeg Jets, but he would miss the rest of the game with a lower body injury. After being out for nearly a month, Connolly returned to the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 20. On December 6, Connolly played in his 100th career NHL game in 3–1 Lightning loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
On March 2, 2015, at the NHL trade deadline, Connolly was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for two second-round draft picks in 2015 and 2016. On March 4, he fractured his hand in his second skate with the Bruins. On April 3, Connolly made his debut with the Bruins, recording two assists in Boston's 3–2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
On July 6, 2015, Connolly agreed to re-sign with the Bruins on a one-year contract as a restricted free agent.
Unable to live up to his draft expectations with the Lightning and the Bruins, Connolly as a restricted free agent was not tendered a contract by Boston. On July 1, 2016, Connolly signed to a one-year contract as a free agent with the Washington Capitals. On July 1, 2017, he signed a two-year contract extension with the Capitals.
In his first season with Washington, Connolly recorded a career-high 15 goals while appearing in 68 games. The following season, in 2017–18, he equaled that career best in goals while also recording a career-high 27 points. He appeared in all 24 playoff games for the Capitals in 2018 while scoring six goals and three assists, including the primary assist on Lars Eller's Stanley Cup-winning goal with 7:37 left in the third period of Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.
Brett Connolly as a member of Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championships
|World Junior Championships|
|2011 United States|
|Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament|
|2009 Czech Republic|
|World U-17 Hockey Challenge|
Connolly made his international debut with Hockey Canada, representing Team Pacific[notes 1] at the 2009 World U-17 Hockey Challenge. He helped the team to the gold medal game, where they lost 5–1 to Team Ontario. Connolly recorded eight points (three goals and five assists) over six games. Several months later, he joined Team Canada for the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships. He scored six points in six games as Canada placed fourth. Connolly remained with the national under-18 team for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August 2009. Connolly recorded an assist in the gold medal game, helping Canada to a 9–2 win over Russia. During the tournament, Connolly hurt his hip, a nagging injury that sidelined him long-term throughout the following season.
Connolly returned to the under-18 team the following year for the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championships in Minsk and Bobruisk, Belarus. Connolly recorded one goal over four games, as Canada finished in fourth place for the second consecutive year.
Moving on to the under-20 level, Connolly joined Canada's junior team for the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York. He recorded three assists over seven games, as Canada won silver. They lost in the gold medal game to Russia. Playing in his NHL rookie season the following year, the Tampa Bay Lightning loaned Connolly to the national junior team for the 2012 World Junior Championships.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|2007–08||Prince George Cougars||WHL||4||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|2008–09||Prince George Cougars||WHL||65||30||30||60||38||4||0||2||2||6|
|2009–10||Prince George Cougars||WHL||16||10||9||19||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|2010–11||Prince George Cougars||WHL||59||46||27||73||26||1||0||0||0||0|
|2011–12||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||68||4||11||15||30||—||—||—||—||—|
|2012–13||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||5||1||0||1||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|2013–14||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||11||1||0||1||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|2014–15||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||50||12||3||15||38||—||—||—||—||—|
Awards and honoursEdit
|Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy||2009|||
|CHL All-Rookie Team||2009|
|CHL Rookie of the Year||2009|||
|Second All-Star Team||2013|
|Stanley Cup (Washington Capitals)||2018|||
- Canada plays four regional teams – Pacific, West, Quebec and Ontario – at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge
- Flett, Cory; Watts, Jessie (eds.). 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 99.
- Swanson, Jim (2007-06-16). "Cougars get commitment from top pick Connolly". Prince George Citizen. p. 8.
- "Brett Connolly player profile". Western Hockey League. Archived from the original on 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Swanson, Jim (Winter 2009–10). "Draft Derby". Prospects Hockey Magazine. Canadian Hockey League: WHL3–WHL7.
- "WHL Rookie of the Year – Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy". Western Hockey League. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Rookie of the Year – Brett Connolly". Canadian Hockey League. Archived from the original on February 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Neal, Andy (2010-01-11). "NHL Central Scouting places Connolly fourth in mid-term rankings". Prince George Cougars Hockey Club. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Kimelman, Adam (2009-10-10). "Connolly stands out among WHL's draft prospects". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Kimelman, Adam (2010-01-12). "Connolly, Kabanov out of Top Prospects Game". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "International Scouting Services: Hall remains top draft pick". The Sports Network. 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- Pap, Elliott (2010-06-09). "Prince George's Brett Connolly survives hip ordeal to remain top NHL draft prospect". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- "2010–11 Regular Season – Prince George Cougars". Western Hockey League. Archived from the original on 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- "Connolly, Smith-Pelly to join Canada's junior team camp". The Sports Network. 2011-12-09. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- Clarke, Ted (2012-01-10). "Cats deal Connolly, Marincin". Prince George Citizen. Prince George, British Columbia. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (September 14, 2012). "Lightning Assign 18 Players to Syracuse of the AHL". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (April 4, 2013). "Lightning Recall Dana Tyrell, Brett Connolly From Syracuse". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (April 12, 2013). "Lightning Reassign Connolly, Johnson to Syracuse". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Axe, Brent (June 19, 2013). "Calder Cup Finals: The 2012–'13 Syracuse Crunch won't soon be forgotten even in defeat". Syracuse.com. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Cristodero, Damian (September 29, 2013). "Lightning sets roster, sends Drouin to juniors, Connolly to AHL". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Philp, W.B (October 17, 2013). "Lightning Recall Bretty Connolly". Lightning Shout. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (October 20, 2013). "Lightning Re-assign Brett Connolly to AHL Syracuse". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (October 31, 2013). "Lightning Recall Brett Connolly From Syracuse". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (November 22, 2013). "Lightning Re-assign Brett Connolly to AHL Syracuse". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Allovimo, Allokago (January 9, 2014). "Syracuse Crunch forward Brett Connolly is named an AHL All Star". SB Nation Raw Charge. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Tampa Bay, Lightning (July 10, 2014). "Lightning Re-sign Brett Connolly". Lightning News. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Burns, Bryan (October 24, 2014). "Bolts explode for four goals in win over Winnipeg". Lightning Beat Writer. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Smith, Joe (November 18, 2014). "Lightning's Brett Connolly set to return". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
- Burns, Bryan (November 20, 2014). "Lightning fall to Maple Leafs in Toronto". Lightning Beat Writer. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Burns, Bryan (December 6, 2014). "Bolts struggle to solve Bobrovsky in 3–1 loss to Blue Jackets". Lightning Beat Writer. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
- "Bruins acquire Brett Connolly from Lightning". Sportsnet. March 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
- "Bruins score three goals in third, rally past Red Wings". NHL.com. April 3, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2015.
- "Bruins sign Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly and Brandon DeFazio". Boston Bruins. 2015-07-06. Retrieved 2015-07-06.
- "Capitals sign Brett Connolly". Washington Capitals. 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2016-07-01.
- "Brett Connolly re-signs with Capitals on two-year contract". ESPN.com. ESPN. July 1, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2017.
- "Panthers make boom/bust signing with Brett Connolly". The Hockey News. July 1, 2019. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Team Pacific roster set for U-17 event". Harbour City Star. 2008-12-23. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Ontario wins second consecutive U17 gold medal". Hockey Canada. 2009-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Brett Connolly". Hockey Canada. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- "Player statistics by team – Canada" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2010-01-20.
- "Canada hammers Russia 9–2 in U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Hockey Tournament". Hockey Canada. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- Campbell, Ken (2010-06-04). "Campbell's Cuts: Hip injury makes Brett Connolly a draft-day wildcard". The Hockey News. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- "Player Statistics By Team" (PDF). International Ice Hockey Federation. 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2011-12-10.[permanent dead link]
- "The Washington Capitals, after years of frustration, win the Stanley Cup". The New York Times. 2018-06-07. Retrieved 2018-06-07.
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or The Internet Hockey Database
|Awards and achievements|
| Winner of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
| Winner of the CHL Rookie of the Year Award
| Tampa Bay Lightning first round draft pick