The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Brett Connolly with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman announced. The pick marked the first time in franchise history Tampa Bay made a sixth overall selection.
"Brett fits the mold of the type of player we are looking for," Yzerman said. "He is a very skilled forward with a high compete level who we had high on our list. We are excited to welcome him to the Lightning organization.'
Connolly, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds, was ranked third among North American skaters according to NHL Central Scouting. He spent three seasons with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, where his statistics improved each year before suffering an injury that limited his 2009-10 campaign to just 16 games. Despite the injury, he still managed to register 10 goals and 19 points.
In 2008-09, Connolly led the Cougars with 30 goals, 30 assists and 60 points in 65 games. He also tied for the team lead in playoff points that season, recording two assists. Also in 2008-09, Connolly became the first 16-year-old Western Hockey League rookie to score 30 goals in a season since Patrick Marleau accomplished the feat in 1995-96. He finished with a team-high 60 points and beat out Evgeny Grachev and Dmitry Kulikov to be named Canadian Hockey League and WHL Rookie of the Year.
A native of Campbell River, British Colombia, Connolly represented Team Canada at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships for the second consecutive year. During the previous tournament in 2009, Connolly served as the youngest player on Team Canada, recording six points in six games. During that same year, at the 2009 World Under-17 Challenge, he led Team Pacific with eight points in six games en route to winning a silver medal.
With a population of 32,000, Connolly’s hometown has a rich hockey tradition, as NHL veteran Rod Brind’Amour also hails from Campbell River.
The Lightning were awarded the sixth overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Draft Lottery on April 13, 2010. At the lottery the Edmonton Oilers won the first overall pick, while the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders earned picks two through five, respectively.
Brett Connolly is the first player in Tampa Bay franchise history to be chosen sixth overall.