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After the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win and Stanley Cup parade, the NHL season, in terms of game action and celebrating is officially over. In the coming weeks, teams will begin preparing for the offseason, including the NHL Entry Draft, Free Agency, and the contract decisions of players (and in the Capitals’ case, their coaches). In Capital Review, NoVa Caps will be taking a look at each player’s season, their contract status, and their outlook for next season, beginning in numerical order based on jersey number. Next up: right wing Brett Connolly.
Games Played: 70
After scoring a a career-high 15 goals on a one-year, $850,000 contract, Connolly parlayed his offensive outburst with a two-year, $3 million contract extension last summer, and rewarded the Caps with a career-high 27 points; he matched his career-high in goals and added 12 assists in 70 games, with a minus-6 rating, all while averaging 12:00 minutes of ice time for Head Coach Barry Trotz. Connolly also finished with a career-high 22.4 shooting percentage and scored four of his 15 goals on the power play, averaging 1:26 minutes of ice time on the man-advantage during the regular season, which was sixth-most on the team.
Connolly played in all 24 playoff games for the Capitals, scoring six goals and adding three assists for nine points, averaging 11:48 of ice time.
Status: One season remaining on two-year, $3 million contract signed in June 2017 ($1.5 million annual average value)
Money Left on Current Deal: $ 1.5 million left in total salary
Free Agent: 2019, Unrestricted
Analysis: The Capitals initially signed Connolly (a former first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning) in the hopes that he would be able to find his footing and cement a role for himself, something he had failed to do in Tampa Bay and then in Boston with the Bruins. Connolly’s 15 goals were a pleasant (and welcome) surprise and the Caps signed Connolly to a two-year bridge deal, something that has turned out to be a smart investment. Still just 26-years old, Connolly is entering the prime of his career and so far, has played well on a bargain deal.
With no major changes expected in the Capitals’ forward corps aside from the pending unrestricted free agency of center Jay Beagle and left wing Alex Chiasson, as well as Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly becoming Restricted free agents, Connolly should see a very similar role next season, including continued time on the power play. As he will be entering the final year of his contract (and the first year in which he is eligible for unrestricted free agency, giving him an extra ounce of motivation to continue his productive offensive performance.
BRETT CONNOLLY HIGHLIGHT OF THE SEASON
By Michael Fleetwood