Monday: As expected, the Panthers have confirmed a four-year deal with Connolly. However, the team has set to disclose the financial terms. GM Dale Tallon calls Connolly “a Stanley Cup Champion who knows what it takes to win in this league (and) brings a dimension of both size and skill to our young forward group and will strengthen our depth.” There is clearly an expectation that the scoring winger will continue to grow into a true top-six player over his time with Florida.
Sunday: While the Panthers have been linked to some of the top players in the free agent class, it appears as if they will be making some smaller free agent splashes as well. Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED reports (Twitter link) that Florida could be signing winger Brett Connolly to a four-year contract when the market officially opens up on Monday. Pierre LeBrun of TSN and The Athletic echoes (Twitter link) that the Panthers are expected to land Connolly while Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland adds (via Twitter) that the deal will carry a $3.5MM AAV.
The 27-year-old is coming off of a career year with Washington. After putting up 27 points (his previous high) in 2017-18, he blew past that as he posted 22 goals and 24 assists in 81 games while chipping in with a pair of goals in the postseason. Most notably, 44 of his 46 points came at even strength and finding players that are capable of producing without power play time are hard to find. That helped vault him to 17th on our Top 50 UFA Rankings.
That said, this deal won’t be without its risks. Connolly is only a few seasons removed from being non-tendered in two straight summers (2014-15 with Tampa Bay and 2015-16 with Boston) and his point production had been in the twenties for the three previous seasons before 2018-19. If he reverts to his career averages, this contract could become an overpayment fairly quickly. On the other hand, if he can come close to that level of five-on-five production once again, it could wind up as a bargain.