The Tampa Bay Lightning and former first-round pick Brett Connolly agreed to a one-year, two-way deal on Thursday, reports Ryan Dadoun of Pro Hockey Talk.
Connolly, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft, will enter training camp “with a fair shot of making the team” after playing sparingly at the NHL level the past two seasons. He quickly reached the NHL as a 19-year-old during the 2011-12 season, appearing in 68 games for Tampa Bay, but has spent most of the past two years in the AHL.
Instead of emerging as one of the many offensive weapons on a Lightning team that also features Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, Connolly has been playing for the Syracuse Crunch. In 2013-14, he recorded 21 goals and 57 points over 66 games with Syracuse.
By signing the flexible short-term deal with the Lightning, Connolly is hoping to position himself for a long-term contract next season. If he can make the NHL roster from Day 1 and prove to be a legitimate contributor, he could help restore some of his hype while finally becoming the long-term piece he was originally envisioned as.
The player taken directly after Connolly in the 2010 draft was Jeff Skinner, who won the Calder Trophy in 2011 as an 18-year-old. Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin and Ryan Johansen were among the prospects selected before him that year.
Over 84 career NHL games spanning the past three seasons, Connolly has recorded six goals and 17 points. He had one goal in 11 games with Tampa Bay in 2013-14.