Photo: My Prince George Now
Former Washington Capitals forward Brett Connolly signed a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $3.25 million with the Florida Panthers, the team announced on Monday afternoon.
#FlaPanthers have agreed to terms with Forward Brett Connolly.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) July 1, 2019
Connolly, 27, set career-highs in goals (22), assists (24), points (46), and games played (81) this past season. He also posted two points (both goals) and a +2 rating in seven games during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Capitals in 2016, Connolly recorded 52 goals, 96 points, and a +27 rating in 217 career games with the team. In 427 career NHL games with the Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Boston Bruins, Connolly has recorded 79 goals, 115 points, and a +12 rating. He scored at least 15 goals in each of his three seasons in Washington while primarily playing on the third line with center Lars Eller and forward Andre Burakovsky, whom the Capitals traded to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday.
The Lightning drafted Connolly sixth overall in the 2010 NHL Draft.
The Panthers add offensive depth with the addition of Connolly to improve their scoring ability after they averaged 3.22 goals-per-game last season, the ninth-most in the NHL. They have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three seasons after winning the Atlantic Division in 2015-16.
During the Capitals’ Stanley Cup run in 2018, Connolly recorded six goals, nine points, and a +2 rating. He has posted eight goals, 11 points, and an even rating in 38 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.
In his interview at the Capitals’ breakdown day in April, Connolly expressed a desire to get a bigger role somewhere, which most likely meant that he wanted an opportunity to play in a team’s top-six forward group and get more ice-time on the power-play. He will certainly get those kinds of opportunities in Florida as they have a spot in their top-six forward group that was open.
The Capitals signed forward Garnett Hathaway to a four-year contract worth an average annual value of $1.5 million on Monday and will likely officially announce a deal for forward Richard Panik to replace Connolly on the third-line later in the day.
Connolly will return to Washington for the first time since leaving the Capitals when the Panthers make their lone stop at Capital One Arena on Wednesday, November 20. The Capitals will also take on the Panthers on Thursday, November 7 and Saturday, April 4 at BB&T Center in Sunrise.
By Harrison Brown