Fantasy Impact: The Florida Panthers have signed Brett Connolly to a four-year contract worth $3.5 million AAV.
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The Panthers get: A former sixth-overall draft pick who was rushed into the NHL prematurely, struggled, was cast off and eventually found a home in Washington. With little in the way of expectations, Connolly was able to thrive in obscurity. On one hand, he scored 22 goals and 46 points, his best season, in a contract year. On the other hand, Connolly is a big 6-3 forward who just turned 27 and entered the prime of his career. As a bigger player, a long wait time for his bigger numbers should have been expected. So is this bump in numbers contract based, or development based?
Connolly is coming off a season in which 44 of his points were at even strength and he saw just 13:20 TOI per game. This isn't first-line money that he is now making, but rather second-or-third-line money. With an uptick in ice time to over 14 minutes, an uptick in PP time to getting a regular shift on the second unit, and an upgrade on his linemates (was with Lars Eller and Andre Burakovsky last season), Connolly could very well improve on his numbers. But temper that with 'Contract Year' theory, and we can expect his production level to be very similar to last year – but with upside.
Fantasy Players Impacted: Let's project out some line combos:
Adding Connolly here makes things a little tougher for prospect Owen Tippett, who is expected to push hard for a job in the fall. Does this mean AHL time for Tippett? Or fourth-line time? (See our fantasy scouting profile/observations on Tippett here). This also could push Vatrano to the third line. What if Connolly clicks with Trocheck better than Vatrano does? Lots of moving parts in play here, but Vatrano, Tippett and Connolly will be in a spirited battle for what could be a pretty plum spot. And Connolly now makes the most money and is coming off of 26 goals. This helps Henrik Borgstrom because he will end up with an upgrade on the RW regardless of how this plays out.
Players this helps, in order:
Players this hurts, in order:
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