It appears Brett Connolly will indeed be leaving the Washington Capitals.
According to reports by Edmonton Oilers radio analyst Bob Stauffer and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, Connolly is expected to sign a four-year deal with the Florida Panthers on Monday, July 1, the first day of unrestricted free agency.
The deal is expected to be worth $3.5 million per season.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 1, 2019
Connolly, who spent three years with the Capitals, is coming off a two-year, $3 million deal that paid him $1.5 million annually. The third-line right wing set or matched his career high in goals every year he played in DC, scoring 15 goals in 2016-17, 15 goals again in 2017-18, and 22 last season.
On the final day of Development Camp, Capitals GM Brian MacLellan spoke to reporters and admitted the team was unlikely to bring Conno back.
“We talked to his representatives,” MacLellan said. “He’s still exploring his opportunities. I think maybe at some point he’s probably going to get priced out of our range. It appears to be headed that way.”
The Capitals will look to fill the departures of Connolly and the recently traded Andre Burakovsky through free agency.
“Obviously, we need a third-line right wing,” MacLellan said. “For sure, we are pursuing all the fits we see for a third-line right wing in free agency… We’ll see if we can find a guy at the right salary level there that provides us with a good two-way game, and if we don’t, then we’ll move on from that.”
Connolly is now the fourth member of the Capitals’ Stanley Cup to leave the team during the offseason including Matt Niskanen (trade), Brooks Orpik (retired), and Andre Burakovsky (trade). Unrestricted free agent Devante Smith-Pelly is not expected to return as well and would become the fifth.
Update, July 1: The deal is official.
Connolly gets 4-year deal w Fla. ($3.5M per year).
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) July 1, 2019
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong
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