Feb 11, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Brett Connolly (14) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the the First Niagara Center. Lightning beat the Sabres 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning Prospect Brett Connolly Named AHL’s Player of the Month

As most of you are already painfully aware, February has been quite a rough month for the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, on the other side of the ice, the game is not the same. On Friday, the American Hockey League announced that Syracuse Crunch RW Brett Connolly was chosen as the AHL Player of the Month for February.

February was indeed a very good month for Brett Connolly. He kick started the month with a nine game scoring streak that started on February 1st with his goal against the Springfield Falcons and went until February 18th with his empty net goal against the Albany Devils.

In the 13 games he played in February, he earned points in 12 of them. He’s got a total of 7 goals and 8 assists for a total of 15 points; as well as a not too shabby plus-6 rating.

Brett Connolly was selected in the first round (sixth overall) by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Last season, a rookie Connolly laced up his skates in 68 games with the Lightning, registering 4 goals and 11 assists for a total of 15 points.

This season, after being reassigned to the Crunch from the Lightning, he has played a total of 53 games. He is currently fifth in the AHL in points, and 7th in the league in goals scored.

Along with his teammates Tyler Johnson, who currently leads the AHL in goals scored, and Ondrej Palat, who recently netted a hat trick against the Rochester Americans, Connolly has helped the Crunch end the month on an eight game winning streak, and reclaim first place in the East Division.

Some people questioned the Lightning when they reassigned Connolly to the Crunch at the start of the season. Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman assured fans that the right decision had been made for Connolly’s future.

We felt at this time, for our needs in Tampa and the role that he would play here, he’s better off playing there.” Yzerman said. “He’s playing a lot of minutes in all situations and he’s getting better. So I’m very comfortable with where he is right now. He’s going to be a good player for us. I just think he needs to play, and play a lot.” ~TBO.com

Yzerman makes a very valid point. Rather than add him to an already jam packed Lightning line up, and risk him playing very limited minutes, and spending more time warming a bench than storming the ice, the Syracuse Crunch is definitely a much better environment for his development.

And let’s be honest, if this is what the Tampa Bay Lightning’s future looks like, then it’s time to break out the shades; because the Lightning’s future is awful bright.

Do you think we’ll see Connolly in the lineup next year? Whose line could you see him meshing well with? Sound off in the comments below.

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