We continue to look ahead to July 1 and the opening of the NHL's free agent market by doing some window shopping in preparation for the Dallas Stars opening up their wallets to bring in some new talent to Dallas. Today we take a look at play making center Tim Connolly from the Buffalo Sabres, who appears to be on his way to the market.
Tim Connolly is a curious piece of work. He just turned 30. He's played over 620 games in the league, and he has demonstrated point per game talent at various times in his career. So why aren't you hearing about the Tim Connolly derby right behind talk of the Brad Richards raffle? In short it's because he simply cannot seem to stay on the ice owing to a string of highly unfortunate and severe injuries, including horrendous concussion problems.
Why He'd Fit: On paper it looks like exactly the kind of supplementation the Stars need as Brad Richards goes charging off into the world of Stanley Cup Contenders. Connolly had 65 points in 73 games in the 2009-2010 season. He scored 55 points in 63 games in 2005-2006. When things are going well for him he puts up Mike Ribeiro type numbers, which is to say nearly a point per game and most of them are assists.
He likes to make plays, and that's what the Stars need to ensure the continued success of Loui Eriksson, who has lost both of his line mates in the last four months. Jamie Benn is transitioning to center but his play-making ability usually results in better looks for himself rather than his wingers. A healthy Connolly would give the Stars another option in their top six grouping, limit Steve Ott's exposure (and pressure that might be put on him should they not acquire a forward to produce more offensively) and strengthen the forward corp throughout.
The similarity to Kari Lehtonen's situation in coming here might be an apt comparison. Can you offer a guy a chance to prove himself healthy and see what he can do with a change of scenery?
Why He Wouldn't Fit: He's intriguing. Very intriguing, but then you look at exactly what kind of injuries he's had. A separated sternum... a severely broken nose. OK. Those things are of a fluky nature and likely won't be repeated. It's his concussion history that bothers you.
When this guy gets a concussion he doesn't mess around. Post concussion syndrome for him means missing entire seasons. He sat out all 82 games of the 2003-2004 season and the first half of the lockout before joining a European team to fill the time. Then it happened again in the playoffs of 2006. Even with an entire summer to recover he couldn't get back on the ice and missed 80 games of the 2006-2007 season.
Final Verdict: He's been something of a whipping boy in Buffalo among the fans and even at this late hour there are rumors that Buffalo could still bring him back. The fanbase wants to be rid of him, it seems, but a survey of talent out on the free agent market and his likely reduced price because of the involved risk make him attractive in this particular economic climate. For the same reasons the Stars might want him (high potential, reasonable price), the Sabres could keep him, rendering yet another UFA discussion moot.
If he reaches the market it could be worth it, depending on what insiders know about his health currently, to kick the tires and see how both sides feel about it. In a perfect, healthy world, Connolly could be a nice fit here to soften the Brad Richards blow.
But is it worth the risk?