BostonBruins.com - At 2:00 a.m. ET on Monday morning, the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning made the first trade of deadline day, with Boston acquiring forward Brett Connolly in exchange for the Bruins' original second round draft pick in 2015 and their original second round selection in 2016.
The 22-year-old Connolly is a right-shot right wing, who added edge to his game in the second half of 2014-15 for the Lightning in a bottom-six role.
"He's a young player, can really shoot the puck, he's got some size, he was drafted sixth overall. He's just starting to come into his own a little bit," General Manager Peter Chiarelli told BostonBruins.com on Monday morning from his office at TD Garden. "He's kind of a straight line player, but he makes plays and he can really shoot the puck."
"He's a player we kind of looked at for a while," said Chiarelli. "They've got a lot of right wings in Tampa and it kind of loosened up last night so we jumped on it. It got done early this morning. But he's a guy that we think can come in and help us right away and still could have a long future for us."
Through 50 games, the Prince George, BC native has 12 goals and three assists. He's been a mainstay in Tampa Bay's lineup this season in his fourth year pro, aside from being sidelined for 12 games with an upper-body injury in October and November. He has a strong shot in his arsenal but doesn't shy away from the dirty areas in front for tips.
In a stretch of five straight games from Feb. 16-27, Connolly led the Bolts with 27 hits, including a season-high nine hits against Arizona.
Drafted sixth overall in 2010, the winger's first NHL season in 2011-12 saw him put up 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 68 games. He has 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists) through 134 career NHL games. He spent most of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL, putting up 52 goals and 68 assists in 137 games.
On a one-year deal worth $850,000, Connolly is set to become a restricted free agent after this season.
It's no secret Bruins have been re-working their right side, with the acquisitions of Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson, drafting of David Pastrnak, and a Providence pipeline of players like Brian Ferlin. Connolly gets added to the mix, and Chiarelli sees him having an immediate impact.
As for what that means for the lines moving forward, we'll have to wait until the Bruins' practice on Tuesday to see the combinations, and hear if the GM sheds more light on the acquisition later on Monday during his annual trade deadline press conference at 5:00 p.m. ET.
The trade was the first on March 2, leading up to the 3:00 p.m. deadline, but there's been a flurry of trades around the League in recent days.
So, how does the Bruins' GM see the day unfolding?
"There's been a lot of deals in the last few days, so I don't know how many deals there will be, that makes it a little harder," said Chiarelli. "We've got a couple other things that we're working on that probably won't happen until the end of the day, but there's always surprises that come down the pipeline, so we'll see."