The redemption of Tim Connolly

connollygwg.jpgPeople want to believe that they can control most of things that happen in their lives, but let’s face it, there are times when it all comes down to luck. Few hockey players can relate to that sentiment quite as much as oft-injured Buffalo Sabres center Tim Connolly.

The slickly skilled center scored a thrilling game winning goal in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers last night, a moment that some might have found unthinkable just a year ago. Despite showing plenty of skill (and averaging close to a point per game) when he managed to get on the ice, injuries have hampered his career on a level that only the likes of Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra can understand.
Even Wile E. Coyote would cringe at his lengthy injury list; since 2006 he’s dealt with a variety of knee, hip and groin injuries, broke some ribs and missed 80 games because of concussions. Rafael Ladysz put it well when he wrote:
“Whatever happens in the near future, nobody can doubt the genius that is a healthy Tim Connolly. His stick-handling can’t be matched by many, his vision opens up the ice for others, and he can fire home the puck when he has the chance.”

Could a healthy season (57 points in all 63 of Buffalo’s games) be a sign that Connolly could be the player Sabres fans have been hoping for? Who knows, but I’m certainly hoping that luck will be on his side from now on.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.