CSNNE.com (Source)“There are a lot of people out there, including Tampa, that I want to prove wrong. That started yesterday and today, and I’m looking to have a good year.” – Brett Connolly

There are a lot of times when professional athletes throw out the “I want to prove them wrong” line and you roll your eyes hearing the cliche’ for the thousandth time.  It’s often thrown about to create bulletin board material, the illusion people even doubted them in the first place whether they did or not, and it’s most commonly heard week in and week out in the NFL.  But in the case of Brett Connolly, he really does have something to prove.

The former 6th overall pick in the “Seguin/Hall” 2010 NHL Draft, Connolly so far has somewhat disappointed in terms what people expect from a draft pick that high.  He’s been a good big-bodied right winger that lit it up in the AHL as Tampa GM Steve Yzerman wanted him to do in his development early in his pro career.  However, he had been stuck in a log jam of forward depth when called up to the NHL level in Tampa Bay.  This past spring the Bruins, with no depth and a dire need at right wing, freed Connolly from depth chart purgatory in Tampa when they picked him up at the trade deadline for the fairly steep price of two 2nd-round draft picks.

Connolly is now on the books with Boston at team friendly one-year, $1.025 million contract this season.  Next summer he’ll be a restricted free agent.  It’s the perfect recipe for a player to elevate his game to where it should be and ultimately cash in.  Last year despite only scoring 15 goals in 50 games in Tampa he was on pace for nearly a 20-goal season.  All while having limited opportunity to gain important power play and top-6 forward ice time.  Now away from Tampa, there is no more “depth chart” excuse.  Health and a clean slate are on Connolly’s side, and there will be plenty of opportunity and motivation this year.

I do expect to see David Pastrnak man the top right wing spot next to David Krejci to begin the season.  But with a team in Boston that is currently set up to have a balanced scoring attack from any of the first three lines, Connolly will have every chance possible to make an impact. The first-round of the 2010 NHL Draft produced some great talented forwards picked after Connolly that are just starting to break out in Vladimir Tarasenko, Nick Bjugstad, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brock Nelson, Kevin Hayes, and on and on.  The time is now for Brett Connolly to become the next guy from that draft class to reach his potential and prove the doubters wrong.