The Caps took a flyer on Brett Connolly and it worked out about as well as anyone could have hoped. With his career at a crossroads, Connolly signed a one-year deal with the Caps, hoping to carve out a role on a Cup contender. Connolly didn’t just carve out a role, he became an important part of the Caps’ regular-season success and showed he’s a capable third line winger.
|10:41||time on ice per game|
|55.7||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|70.7||5-on-5 goal percentage, adjusted|
About this visualization: This series of charts made by Micah Blake McCurdy of hockeyviz.com shows various metrics for the player over the course of the 2016-17 season. A short description of each chart:
The Caps brought in Brett Connolly on a low-risk deal. Best-case scenario: Connolly would bring a scoring threat to the Caps third line. The best-case scenario happened. Connolly potted 15 goals and 23 points in 66 games. His 1.26 goals/60 at 5-on-5 was second on the team only to TJ Oshie, partially buoyed by a career-high shooting percentage of 18.9 percent.
Connolly was part of what could fairly be called the best third line in hockey. In 263 minutes, the Caps third line of Connolly, Lars Eller, and Andre Burakovsky posted a 60.9 percent shot-attempt percentage, third among all forward combos in the NHL. The trio also posted a 73.5 goals-for percentage, good for fourth among all trios in 2016-17.
But we can’t discuss Connolly without discussing his playoff performance, or lack thereof. Connolly dressed for just seven games in the playoffs and spent some of that time on the fourth line. Was this a case of Connolly not showing up at the most important time of the year? Or was this a case of Barry Trotz too soon abandoning something that worked so well during the regular season? After all, it’s not as if the Caps third line performed badly during their times together. In 33 minutes together during the playoffs, the trio owned 57 percent of the shot attempts. I’m sure there are some who soured on Connolly due to his lack of scoring in the playoffs. But I find it hard to fault a guy who only got a small handful of games with his regular linemates before being relegated to fourth line duty and the press box.
If the Caps can bring back Connolly on a fair deal ($1.5 million per season or less) to again play on the right side of the third line, I’d be all for it.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 31, 2016
What do you think about Connolly’s season? Did the playoffs change your opinion of him?
Headline photo: Amanda Bowen
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