February 21, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tim Connolly (12) celebrates his first period goal against the New Jersey Devils with Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joey Crabb (46) and forward Matthew Lombardi (15) at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Could Tim Connolly of the Toronto Maple Leafs be a good fit for Nashville?
With Patric Hornqvist out indefinitely and the team already in need of help at forward, David Poile has a number of options available to him. One of those is to make a trade. Not only is Tim Connolly is the type of forward that could address some of the team’s weaknesses, but Toronto would benefit from the trade as well.
TIM CONNOLLY – TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Nobody claimed Connolly when Toronto put him on waivers to send him to the AHL, mostly because of his $4.5 million price tag. But that price tag says a lot more about the skewed hockey economics in Toronto than it does about Connolly as a player. Since being demoted he’s scored two goals in two games and
"“I really commend Tim because, in reality, it’s not a thing where a player can come in here and flick a switch,” said (Toronto Marlies coach Dallas) Eakins. “Here’s a guy who’s been in the NHL since he was 18 years old. Then he suddenly clears waivers, he’s here, and he’s a high-profile player.“There’s always a mourning period, there just is. But interesting thing is I’ve seen no mourning from him. He’s come in and been excellent. And I think that says a lot about Tim Connolly’s character and the way he’s handled this difficult, personal situation.”"
Connolly has a bit of a reputation for being injured often, which could be of concern given that the Preds are looking for someone partly because of injuries. There was a three-season stretch from 2006 to 2009 where he only played 98 games. But he’s only missed 35 games over the last three seasons, making him comparable to a current Predator like Martin Erat or David Legwand.
Jan 13, 2012; Buffalo, NY, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tim Connolly (12) against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
A cap hit of $4.5 million is certainly on the high side for somebody who scored 36 points last season. But his scoring potential depends a lot more on who he’s lining up with that anything else, so maximizing his potential would the role of the coaching staff. As for the pure cost, the Predators have $16 million in cap space to spare, more than all but six teams in the NHL. If they wanted to spend to the cap they would still have plenty of room for further acquisitions later in the season.
Right now the team needs an immediate upgrade, and Connolly could slot in to several different line combinations. He mostly plays center, which the Preds already have plenty of; he can also play left wing, which they don’t. One of his problems in Toronto was that he wanted to play a bigger offensive role than he was being used in, which meshes well with Nashville’s need to acquire more scoring punch. There’s no guaranteeing he still has a lot of that after two straight seasons of diminished offensive production, of course, but I don’t think he would be a terrible gamble by any means.
Given that Toronto has exiled Tim Connolly with the Marlies, they have clearly decided his cost exceeds his benefits. Shedding his salary would leave them room to pursue a blockbuster trade for, say, somebody like Roberto Luongo. Looks like a potential win-win deal for both sides.
What do you think?