The Hockey Spy’s 2010 NHL Entry Draft Preview – Brett Connolly

Christopher Ralph is a sportswriter with a focus on hockey prospects, the entry draft, as well as occasional Flames coverage here at THW.

“Full Potential” Prospect Profile:

Please “Click Here” for “Notes Up Front” and the “Legend” for various topics covered below as covered for the NHL 2009 Draft rankings. Stay tuned for a live updated article dedicated to the NHL 2010 Entry Draft.

Brett Connolly (Click on name for up- to- date stats)

Brett Connolly {Paul Clarke Photos - Flickr}

Born: May 2, 1992 in Campbell River, British Columbia
Height/Weight: 6-2/181 pounds
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
2009-10 Team: Prince George (WHL)

NHL Status: Draft Eligible 2010

One-Timer:

Two word – hip injury.

No one denies Connolly’s high end talent. In actual fact, if not for his serious hip injury that required surgery and caused him to miss nearly the entire season, few doubt that he’d be giving Hall and Seguin a run for the prospect available.

When Brett is healthy, he’s an intensely competitive goal scoring force with good size and very good skating ability.

His recent performance in the scouting combine helped reinforce he is now perfectly healthy. He is sure to undergo more medical scrutiny in the near future by NHL teams physicians to further cement his healthy claim. Even so, GMs and scouts may still have concerns going forward as Connolly embarks on his NHL career and his hip will hold up for the long haul.

While I had him going 7th overall in my Playoff Edition Mock Draft, Connolly could easily land in the top 5 should a team consider his outstanding potential and give him a clear bill of health. By the same token, he could also slip outside the top 10 if there are medical concerns.

Scout’s Honor:

* “If he’s healthy he is as good as anybody in this draft.”
A scout, quoted in The Hockey News Draft Preview 2010

* “Brett Connolly is a goal scoring phenom who took the Western League by storm last season (2008-09). Connolly is heading into this campaign as potentially the best natural goal-scorer in the WHL and his draft class, so scouts are left to wonder what type of numbers he would put up if he played with some quality NHL prospects that Prince George severely lack.”

– Mark Seidel (THN)

* “He puts the puck in the net, he’s got good size, great on-ice awareness. He’s not a crasher or a banger, but he finishes his checks. He does everything well.”
– Peter Sullivan, NHL Central Scouting

Current Season:

2009-10:  In an abbreviated season for Brett, he scored 10 goals and added 9 assists for 19 points in 16 games for the Cougars.

Other accomplishments:

  • 2008-09: In his inaugural WHL season, Connolly scored 30 goals and added 30 assists for 60 points in 65 games for Prince George.
  • He was named the 2008-09 WHL and CHL Rookie of the Year.

Bio/Interview(s)/Link(s):

Scouting Combine Performance:

* Connolly at the combine video (Hockeys Future)

  • 9th in Upper Body Power 4kg Ball (in)
  • 9th Push Strength (lb/lb body weight)
  • · 7th in Pull Strength (lb/lb body weight)

International Tournaments:

  • Connolly won a silver medal with Team Pacific at the 2009 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, scoring 8 points in 6 games.
  • He was also a member of Team Canada’s U18 team for the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships as an under aged player and notched six points in six games for the fourth place squad.
  • Connolly played in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August 2009 where he suffered his much talked about hip injury.
  • He had 1 goal in 4 games for Canada in a disappointing tournament for the squad at the 2010 Under-18 World Championship in Belarus.

ETA = 2-3 yrs

Risk-Reward Analysis: Risk = 3.5/5   Reward = 5/5

NHL Potential: Top line goal-scoring winger

Strengths:

*See “One Timer” section above.

  • Blistering, accurate shot.
  • Excellent puck-handling skills even at high speeds.
  • Dangerous and opportunistic offensive scorer and playmaker.
  • Great on-ice vision and hockey sense.
  • High level hockey intelligence

Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:

  • Like many players at this level, Connolly simply needs to fill out physically and work on his defensive play, which is actually underrated.
  • He will need to continue to work on his fitness, working diligently and concentrating on injury prevention.

Fantasy Hockey Potential: Offensive = 9.5/10   Defensive = 8/10

NHL Player(s) Comparison:

At his best: A hydrid of: Tomas Vanek, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Marleau

Video(s):

Interesting Notes:  (NHL.com)

  • Connolly became the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals in the WHL since Patrick Marleau in 1995–96

Other Rankings:

Photo courtesy of C. Alexander
Connolly: In the Mold of Patrick Marleau {Photo courtesy of C. Alexander}

ISS: 13 (Apr ‘10)

CSB: 3-NA (Apr ‘10)

TSN: 5 (Apr ’10) {Bob MacKenzie}

NACS: 7 (Mar ’10) {Mark Seidel – THN}

RLR: 9 (June ’10) {Kyle Woodlief – USA Today}

McKeens: 7 (May ’10)

THN: 4

THW: 8 (June  ’10) {Christopher Ralph }

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