Brett Connolly‘s about to be rich. It couldn’t happen to a better 27-year-old silver fox.
|13.3||time on ice per game|
|50.7||5-on-5 shot-attempt percentage, adjusted|
|50.6||5-on-5 expected goal percentage, adjusted|
|58.5||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 season. A short description of each chart:
Here’s the way nobody’s NHL career ever goes:
Everything about Connolly’s early years pointed to settling in at the AHL level to wreck teenagers’ souls until he chose to retire. The NHL didn’t work out for him in Tampa, and it didn’t work out for him in Boston. He didn’t even play all that much in his first season in Washington. But then he hit 15 goals. And then he did it again in a year with harsher headwinds. And then, this season, he smashed through the twenty-goal mark, making him a very attractive free agent heading into the summer.
Connolly’s 22 goals came despite a lowered shooting percentage. It was all process: a 30-percent increase in shot attempts, a 78-percent increase in rebounds created, and a 92-percent increase in high-danger chances. He added major increases in assists (13 of his 24 of which were primary) as a supplement. He was an offensive dynamo in a spot in the Caps’ lineup that opponents overlooked at their own peril.
Connolly did what in role-playing games is called min-maxing: find out what you do well and do it all the time. Turns out what Connolly does well is take fast-developing, opportunistic wristshots from danger close. From Sean Tierney:
This is one way to score a lot of goals, but it is not an easy one. Getting to those locations without getting banged up is hard; getting to those locations while maintaining finesse with your shooting is incredibly hard. It’s the kind of hard work that you do on a two-year, $1.5-million AAV deal to unlock for yourself a whole new world of possibility for yourself and your family.
Problem is this: that new world probably won’t be in Washington. I won’t hazard a guess at what Connolly’s next contract will look like, but I suspect it will be too rich for Washington, who will have a tough cap situation coming up. So the check comes due: all the joy Connolly delivered to us these past few years as an unlikely and unassuming reclamation project who became a beloved scoring fiend and a man of principle comes at the cost of losing him now.
If you wanted to bring Connolly back, and we all do, how would you make it work? If not here, where would you like to see him land? What would be a good fit?
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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