Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for ~20 or more games this season (and finished the season with the team) - and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
Regular season statistics:
Key Stat: 56 - Number of shots taken in 36 games played in the regular season.
The Good: Kevin Connauton is a promising young player. He's got great offensive instincts, a bomb from the point, and a pretty good outlet pass. He's still young, and defensemen, especially offensive ones, usually need quite a while to develop. When he's on the ice, it's obvious that he possesses a lot of skill. He's quick in the back end and can usually get the puck past the blueline briskly without any hiccups.
He also loves to activate in the offensive zone, which is something the coaching staff has really wanted the Stars defensemen to do. He's quick to skate farther into the offensive zone than most defenders which can confuse the opposition and force them to re-do their matchups. A great example was his first goal of the season, when he glided down to the side of the net as Tyler Seguin wheeled around and tapped in a perfect pass.
One goal and 7 assists in 36 games isn't a whole lot, but this was his first year of action, and he received limited minutes even when he drew into the lineup.
The Bad: The rawness of Connauton's development is still quite evident a lot of the time. He was prone to turnovers and his roving got him into a lot trouble at times. It's understandable for a young offensive-minded blueliner to have some hiccups, but on a team that fought and clawed all year and just barely got into the playoffs, it was pretty painful to watch his rookie mistakes at time. The lackluster play of Sergei Gonchar and Aaron Rome really magnified Connauton's mistakes because, when he drew into the lineup, there wasn't much insurance on the back end to clean up for him.
On top of that, while he's 24 years old, he had a lot of trouble cracking the lineup even when things were going bad for the defensive corps, so it's obvious the coaching staff didn't quite trust him with a lot of minutes. On top of that, 8 points wasn't all that much, and you would have liked to see a guy who is pegged as a possible powerplay specialist put up some more points.
The Bottom Line: This was Kevin Connauton's first full season in the NHL. He made the team out of camp, and while he had trouble staying in the lineup all year, that's understandable with the coaches looking to the veterans to keep playing given the youth of the lineup and lack of true No. 1 man on the back end. He had his hiccups, making some costly turnovers as he tried to exit the zone and sometimes being a bit too aggressive on the offense, but all in all he played some decent hockey when he was given the opportunity to play. That being said, if he wants to become a regular Dallas Star, he's going to have to start putting up a lot more points. He's never going to solidify himself in the lineup as a defensive guy, so the offense has to come.
Vote now: Rate Connauton on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season.