Hours after losing left winger Jason Chimera in free agency, the Capitals continue to enrich the competition for the roster spot vacated by his absence.
On Friday afternoon, TSN’s Gord Miller reported the Capitals signed winger Brett Connolly to a one-year contract for $850,000.
Brett Connolly signs a 1 year with Washington for $850,000.
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) July 1, 2016
Connolly spent last season as a depth forward with the Boston Bruins, tallying nine goals and 25 points in 73 games. Connolly became an unrestricted free agent after the Bruins decided not to give him a qualifying offer in late-June.
Selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010 NHL Draft, Connolly had great promise as a goal-scorer early in his major junior career with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. After missing most of his draft year with a hip flexor injury, Connolly rebounded nicely in the following season with 46 goals and 73 points in 59 games. The British Columbia native went on to have a fine AHL career with 52 goals and 120 points in 137 career games. However, injuries continued to plague his development with the Lightning, and he was ultimately traded to the Boston Bruins for a pair of second-round draft picks in 2015.
The Capitals are taking a roll of the dice with Connolly given his history, but there is great upside to this deal for Brian MacLellan. Connolly has shown he can produce at lower levels, and while he lacks consistently in the NHL ranks, the 6-foot-2, 193 pound winger has the speed and offensive skills to make an impact at the NHL level. While he may not have the physical presence of the now departed Chimera, Connolly fits the profile of a reclamation project that with hard work, solid coaching, and a reprieve from nagging injuries, could turn out to be a key piece of Washington’s forward depth.
Squarely in the mix to make the opening roster, Connolly’s addition helps offset the production that Jason Chimera took with him to the New York Islanders — and has the potential to be a terrific value signing if he can stay healthy and find the consistency that has thus far eluded him at hockey’s highest level.
By Keith Leonard