– The Red Wings added some depth to their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids when they signed Westland, Michigan, native Chris Conner
to a one-year contract.
Conner, 27, played a valuable role for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, filling in for injuries to key players like Jordan Staal and Sidney Crosby. In all, Conner had a career year, tallying personal-bests in games played (68), goals (7), points (16), plus/minus rating (5), hits (50), shots on goal (91) and game-winning goals (3).
He has played parts of five seasons in the NHL with the Penguins and Dallas. Conner, who went to Michigan Tech, was not drafted, and signed his first NHL contract as a free agent with the Stars in 2006 – the summer following his last year at MTU.
With his speed and willingness to play in the corners, the 5-foot-8 Conner provided a much-needed spark for the Pens as they dealt with injuries.
One example of Conner’s value came in the Pens’ 4-1 win over the Red Wings last January. In that game, Conner was obstructed on a breakaway by center Kris Draper. The play resulted in a penalty shot for the Pens’ forward, who cruised in a Joey MacDonald
and slid a backhander between the Wings’ goalie.
Conner’s first career game-winning goal also came against his hometown Wings in 2009 when he helped the Stars to a 4-2 win at Joe Louis Arena.
He’s played the last two seasons with the Pens’ organization, bouncing between Pittsburgh and its AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He was a $550,000 cap hit to the Penguins last season.
In 139 NHL games, Conner has 16 goals, 24 assists, five game-winning goals and 30 penalty minutes.
Conner played four seasons at Michigan Tech, where he had 69 goals and 60 assists in 151 collegiate games for the Huskies. He also finished school as the Huskies’ all-time leader in shorthanded goals (15).
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