Facing a rapidly approaching deadline in regard to the future of rookie left wing Brett Connolly
, Tampa Bay Lightning
General Manager decided after last night's game against the Sabres.
Connolly is sticking with the team.
"We feel Brett's shown that he belongs in the NHL and makes our team better," Yzerman wrote in a text message to the St. Petersburg Times. "So, we've decided to keep him."
Yzerman had until Thursday's game against Nashville to make the decision on whether to keep Connolly or return him to his junior team, the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. Connolly's ninth game was last night; if they sent him back before he played a 10th game, it would have delayed the start of his entry-level contract for another year.
Connolly has 2 assists in nine games, but is tied for the team lead with a plus-5 rating, and is averaging 13:54 of ice time per game.
Playing on a line with veteran Vincent Lecavalier
and Martin St. Louis
hasn't hurt his development, either.
"Both guys have Stanley Cups and a lot of experience, so, for me, it's nice to have a couple of guys like that I can talk to," Connolly told the Times before Tuesday's game. "I'm just trying to take as much knowledge as I can."
He'll have much more time to listen and learn going forward.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK