Tampa Bay Lightning rookie forward Brett Connolly
isn’t going anywhere, General Manager Steve Yzerman said on Monday.
Connolly has recorded four goals and nine points in 48 games this season, but has just one assist in his past 26 contests and admitted that at times he has struggled defensively.
Tampa Bay had until Monday's trade deadline to send the first-year right wing to his junior club, Tri-City of the Western Hockey League, so that he would be eligible to participate in the team's playoffs, but elected to have him remain with the big club instead.
The Lightning elected to keep Connolly in Tampa at Monday's trade deadline
Connolly's performance on the team's most recent three-game road trip is perhaps part of the reason why.
During the stint through Winnipeg, Pittsburgh and New Jersey, Connolly saw power-play time and logged over 11 minutes of ice time in each of those contests, perhaps revealing some of his best play since before suiting up for Team Canada at the World Juniors tournament back at the end of December.
“He’s going to play,” Yzerman said. “We’ve gone back and forth on whether to send him back to juniors to play or to keep him here and play, but you watch him the past few games, he’s taking the regular shifts, playing on the power play, and with 20 more games in the regular season, he’ll get more experience. Ultimately, we want to do what’s best for him.”