Colorado Avalanche Should Consider Brett Connolly in Free Agency

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 16: Brett Connoly #10 of the Washington Capitals passes the puck against Patrik Nemeth #12 of the Colorado Avalanche in the first period at the Pepsi Center on November 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 16: Brett Connoly #10 of the Washington Capitals passes the puck against Patrik Nemeth #12 of the Colorado Avalanche in the first period at the Pepsi Center on November 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche could make a modestly good signing if they pick up pending unrestricted free agent Brett Connolly.

The Colorado Avalanche have a good thing going with the current Cup champs (at least for a few more days), the Washington Capitals. A couple times the Avs have nabbed players from the Caps, and it’s worked out well.

Granted, both those players were goalies (Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer). However, we’ve reaped the rewards of Washington’s development system.

Brett Connolly could be the latest acquisition for the Avalanche. Granted, Connolly wasn’t exactly developed by Washington. And, granted, the Avs wouldn’t have to trade for Connolly. However, it would still be a good situation to look at.

So, let’s look at the Avalanche potentially acquiring Brett Connolly in free agency.

Brett Connolly Stats

Position: Wing
Age: 27
Size: 6’3″, 195 pounds
Previous Contract: 2-year standard contract, $1,500,000 AAV
2018-19 Statistics: 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists) in 81 regular-season games; 2 points (2 goals) in 7 playoff games

Winger Brett Connolly has been in the NHL for eight years. The Tampa Bay Lightning selected him sixth-overall in the 2010 draft.

Connolly played most of four seasons with the Bolts. He never seemed to get his step with Tampa — his best season was 15 points (12 goals, 3 assists) n 50 games with them. At the 2015 trade deadline, the Lightning trades him to Boston.

Brett Connolly finished the season with Boston and played another year with them. He had what was for him a breakout year, 25 points (9 goals, 16 assists) in 71 games.

The Bruins didn’t offer Connolly a qualifying offer, and he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016. At that time, he signed a one-year contract with the Washington Capitals, followed by the current two-year contract the next season.

Brett’s career year was this season. He recorded 46 points (22 goals, 24 assists).

Brett Connolly as a Teammate

Brett Connolly is a Stanley Cup winner. He was part of the historic 2017-18 Washington Capitals team that brought the first-ever Stanley Cup to Washington. Indeed, Connolly assisted on the Cup-winning goal, scored by Lars Eller.

He played in all 24 games, earning 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 points.

As part of that Stanley Cup-winning team, Connolly was eligible to go on the White House visit with the rest of the Cup winners. He declined to do so, stating the following:

"“I respectfully decline…. It’s obviously a big deal and it gains a lot of attention. I’ve been in full support of an old teammate that I’m really good friends with and who I agreed with, and a guy who will be back here, I’m sure, at the end of the year. It has nothing to do with politics. It’s about what’s right and wrong.”"

Connolly was referring to teammate Devante Smith-Pelly, one of the few black players in the NHL. Smith-Pelly was also part of the Cup-winning team, but he stated at the time of the win he wouldn’t go, citing the following reasons:

"“The things that [Donald Trump] spews are straight-up racist and sexist … I already have my mind made up.”"

I mention this incident because players always talk about supporting their fellow teammates. Yet it’s a rare individual who will actually make a sacrifice such as Connolly did — put his money where his mouth is, so to say.

I’d like to note that Philipp Grubauer was also eligible to go on the White House visit. He declined to do so, stating he wanted to focus on the Colorado Avalanche’s playoff push. The visit was on a Monday. The Avs didn’t have a game until Wednesday and Monday was their off day.

Brett Connolly and the Colorado Avalanche

More from Free Agency

Brett Connolly is a player who, at the lower levels, was a prolific scorer. However, he never lived up to his draft promise. If he’d even been drafted in the second round, probably no one would have given his modest scoring a second thought.

One thing the Colorado Avalanche need is some size up front. They’re getting smaller in the back end with players like Samuel Girard and Cale Makar. Unless they want to get pushed around, the Avs need to add a little size somewhere. Brett would fit that bill.

I think Connolly could be a good fit for Colorado. We’ve had good luck with former Washington players in the past. Even though I don’t think the two teams’ playing styles are similar, Caps players seem to transition well onto our team.

Colorado needs a second-line center, but I think that’s too rare a commodity in this year’s free agency. Instead, Connolly could at least take over Gabriel Bourque‘s veteran presence. He’d be a bit more expensive (though not too dear), but he also brings more upside.

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In any case, Free Agency Frenzy begins on July 1, which is when the top free agents will be signed. The official window for teams to begin talking to pending free agents in June 25.