This is the third post in my three paragraph player reviews series. You can read what I’ve previously had to say about Eric Neilson, Cedric Paquette, and Mike Angelidis by visiting those links, as I won’t be doing any of these “reviews” for them.
Previous players reviewed in this series:
To say that Syracuse Crunch forward Brett Connolly had a bit a tough year would probably be an understatement. Connolly started the season with the expectation (one held by more than just himself) that he’d make the Lightning roster. He shined during Tampa’s pre-season, impressing everyone from the coaches to the fan base. Despite all of that, however, Connolly found himself back in Syracuse after forwards Tyler Johnson, Richard Panik and Ondrej Palat all unexpectedly secured spots with the big club to start the regular season.
With his confidence clearly shaken, Connolly then struggled at various points this past season with the Crunch. Although the occasional recall to the NHL seemed to bolster his attitude for short periods of time, it wasn’t until Tampa Bay traded for forward Jonathan Marchessault and he joined the roster that Connolly really found his stride again. Being paired with such an obviously talented playmaker definitely increased Connolly’s confidence. Connolly scored 5 goals and netted 10 assists during the month of March, his best month this season. His April totals might have surpassed those numbers had Syracuse played more games.
Connolly was ranked at 7 on Raw Charge’s Top 25 Under 25. Although that rather high ranking comes with the disclaimer that the votes were tallied in the summer before Connolly’s various slumps, much of his latter play in Syracuse seemed to have been more on par with what was originally expected of him. Connolly was an alternate captain with the Crunch, so the coaching staff clearly believed in his leadership ability.
Connolly will be an RFA this summer, and his future with the organization is considered by many to be a bit of a question mark. The Lightning seem overloaded with talented forwards. Tampa may have invited Connolly to be a Black Ace, but they also might have figured that they’ve seen all they need to see from him.