Tag: draft pick signings

Canada v Sweden: 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship - Day Six

Lightning agree to terms with 2010 1st rounder Brett Connolly

The Lightning started their busy offseason today by agreeing to terms with their sixth overall pick Brett Connolly. Terms have not been released for the entry-level deal, but it’s the first step in what Lightning fans hope will be a long productive career.
The Prince George, BC native was such a highly regarded prospect that he was Central Scouting’s third ranked skater even though he only played in 16 games last season due to a nagging hip injury. He was the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals in the traditionally defensive Western Hockey League in over a decade (Patrick Marleau). Some people thought he was the best pure sniper in the 2010 draft—a draft that included Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, and Jeff Skinner.

This season scouts were reminded of his spectacular talent as he netted 46 goals in 59 games for the Prince George Cougars. Yet another injury (this time a dislocated shoulder) sidelined him for the 2011 playoffs—but the spectacular stats he posted in the regular season proved that he had successfully rebounded from the his troubling hip injury.

Damian Cristodero from the St. Pete Times had the story:

Brett Connolly, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top pick, and No. 6 pick overall, in the 2010 draft, has signed an entry-level contract. The paperwork is not yet registered so it is not “official” (that should happen in July). Connolly could not immediately be reached but his father, Pat, confirmed the signing.

Later Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune confirmed with Connolly himself that he’d signed an entry-level deal.

Looking forward, Connolly has the potential to go with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman as the next generation of hockey stars in Tampa Bay. Next on Steve Yzerman’s offseason “to do” list will be to start making decisions on all of the Lightning free agents. Restricted free agents Steven Stamkos and Teddy Purcell are both in line for healthy raises. They’ll also have to make decisions on unrestricted free agent playoff performers Dwayne Roloson, Simon Gagne, Sean Bergenheim, Eric Brewer, Mike Smith, and Adam Hall. Tampa Bay is in good shape with their salary cap situation, but they’ll have plenty of work to with their available money.

Steve Yzerman knows things are looking good for his young team:

“We have a good nucleus. We’ve got to make good decisions to try and keep the team at this level or even get better for next year. We have a competitive group of guys and we have a very good coaching staff, so there’s a lot to feel good about.”

The 2010-11 season was a great start for the Steve Yzerman era—but the folks in Tampa view it as just that: a start. Brett Connolly figures to be a piece to help the Lightning build on their Eastern Conference Final appearance. As Yzerman said, they were only a goal away from the Stanley Cup Final this year. If they can make the right moves over the offseason, they should have an opportunity to build on the success over the next few years.

Rangers sign draft picks Dylan McIlrath and Ryan Bourque


New York took care of some internal paperwork to help officially set their future in motion today signing a pair of recent first round picks. 2009 first round pick forward Ryan Bourque and 2010 first rounder defenseman Dylan McIlrath both signed their first-year entry-level contracts with the team today.

Bourque you may recall from the Team USA World Junior Championships the last two years. Bourque helped lead the USA to gold in 2010 and is currently playing in the QMJHL with the Quebec Ramparts. This season with the Remparts, Bourque has 26 goals and 31 assists in 47 games played. The Rangers are hoping he can slot in and be a more successful pro player than his brother Chris who left North America to play in the KHL this season. If Ryan can be even half the pro his father Raymond was, he’ll be an outstanding player for years to come with the Rangers.

McIlrath is a bruising and physical defenseman who plays with an edge and a guy the Rangers foresee as a future bruiser. While playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors this year, McIlrath has five goals and 18 assists as well as 141 penalty minutes through 59 games in the WHL. Being physical and unafraid to drop the gloves when need be makes him a potentially scary player to face off with if he makes the NHL. At 6’5″ 215 pounds and just weeks shy of turning 19 years-old, the Rangers will give him time to develop further.

The Rangers hope that McIlrath can develop into a shutdown defenseman otherwise people will look back on this draft as the one the Rangers passed on Cam Fowler to pick a guy that wasn’t as effective.