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Florida Panthers: The Forgotten Brett Connolly

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It seems Florida Panthers ahead Brett Connolly’s breakout season wasn’t a fluke. One season after hitting 20 objectives for the primary time and scoring a career-high 46 factors with the Washington Capitals, the 27-year-old is on tempo to shatter each marks along with his new crew. Having simply signed a four-year deal, the journeyman Connolly has seemingly discovered a brand new dwelling.

Connolly an Uncommon Suspect

Of
course, it’s truthful to say that the Caps have been way more stacked final season after
they captured the Stanley Cup then the Cats
at the moment are. I imply, the Panthers aren’t with out their fair proportion of firepower with
91 objectives up to now (101 for the Capitals, for the document). When you run down the
checklist of the Panthers’ scoring leaders, the same old suspects pop up the place you
would count on.

Ex-Washington Capitals ahead Brett Connolly – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

First-liners
Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov are clearly on the
high. Then there’s defenseman Keith Yandle, who continues to contribute
offensively at a powerful tempo. It’s simple then to miss everybody else,
like Mike Hoffman, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad, every of whom are removed from
slouches.

At
the highest of that second wave of scorers, although, is none aside from Connolly,
who has 19 factors in 26 video games, together with a team-leading 12 objectives. And he’s
doing all of it averaging a modest 14:39 in ice time. That too is a career-high, up
simply barely from the 13:20 he received with the Capitals final yr. So, he’s received a
lot to be grateful for, however, then once more, seeing as he’s profiting from his
restricted alternatives, everybody does.

Clearly, the Panthers have so much for which to be grateful total. For starters, they’re presently in an Atlantic Division playoff spot, however Connolly’s contributions in that regard can’t be understated. Had been it not for the success of the crew on the whole, there’s an argument to be made he’d slot in as No. 1 on the checklist.

Connolly vs. Panarin

Have a look at the information: This previous summer time, the Panthers for all intents and functions settled for simply goalie Sergei Bobrovsky as a free-agent signee, regardless of rampant rumors that didn’t materialize they’d ink Artemi Panarin too. So, Connolly got here throughout as a comfort prize and a poor one at that, contemplating:

His monitor document as a secondary scorer was about so long as this one sentence andPanarin’s 87 factors final season successfully doubled Connolly’s output.Just a few months later and it’s clear Connolly nonetheless lags far behind Panarin by way of what the latter would have delivered to the Panthers. Panarin’s 33 factors in 25 video games on an underachieving New York Rangers squad have been spectacular, even with expectations for him being as excessive as they have been heading into this season.

New York Rangers ahead Artemi Panarin – (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Regardless, as alluded to earlier, Connolly has been removed from a disappointment. And, contemplating the quantity of cap house the Panthers have and the quantity for which Panarin signed with the Rangers, getting each Bobrovsky and Panarin was all the time a pipe dream.

Connolly vs. Bobrovsky

Clearly, figuring out what we all know now… hell, extrapolating even again then previous to the signings, the Panthers made a mistake signing Bobrovsky. On the very least, the Panthers overpayed for Bobrovsky’s companies, seeing as he was largely unproven within the playoffs apart from the only spherical wherein he had been dominant as a 30-year-old final spring.

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky – (AP Picture/Wilfredo Lee)

Now
31, Bobrovsky shouldn’t have been the Panthers’ sole marquee free-agent
signing. That a lot was all the time apparent. Connolly, then again, offering
extra bang for the Panthers’ buck than both Bobrovsky or Panarin? Not as apparent.

Certainly, with a cap hit of simply $three.5 million, lower than one third of Panarin’s, Connolly could have singlehandedly saved the Panthers’ summer time. Granted, he’s not singlehandedly chargeable for the Panthers’ success up to now this season, but it surely’s a crew effort that extends previous that dominant first line, which is largely as a consequence of Connolly.

For a man who’s solely ranked No. 14 on the Panthers by way of ice time per recreation, he’s exhausting to overlook… or overlook. Connolly has already left his mark on this crew, with three extra years left a minimum of.

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