Early Monday morning, two trades broke out, both reported first by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet.
The first trade was between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. It involved Tampa Bay forward Brett Connolly going to the Boston Bruins for a pair of second round picks.
Connolly is a 22-year-old right winger who was drafted sixth overall in the 2010 draft. That was nearly five years ago, though, so draft position doesn’t really hold a lot of merit at this point. What Connolly did between now and then does, though.
Connolly’s first AHL season (second pro season, because he did play most of the year before with Tampa Bay) was with the Syracuse Crunch in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. As a 20-year-old, Connolly tallied 31 goals and 63 points in 71 games. He was third in the AHL in goal scoring, finishing just six behind teammate, and current Lightning, Tyler Johnson (albeit Johnson did it in nine fewer games). Connolly followed it up with a solid 2013-2014 season in the AHL with 57 points in 66 games.
Connolly was supposed to be a big offensive contributor, and just hasn’t been to this point for the Lightning. In fact, he’s been among the worst in the NHL since he broke in: since the start of the 2011 season, Connolly’s 1.14 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five was the worst among Tampa forwards not named J.T. Brown (and worse than Brian Boyle). Out of 371 forwards with at least 1250 minutes of five-on-five time over that span, Connolly was tied for 312th with names like Paul Gaustad and Chris Thorburn.
There could still be some upside, and obviously that is what Boston is banking on. The once-promising prospect, though, hasn’t shown that next-level production necessary, so it’ll be curious to see how he fits on a relatively low-scoring Boston team.
The next trade that was announced also involved Tampa Bay. The Lightning sent defenceman Radko Gudas, a first round pick, and a third round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for veteran defenceman Braydon Coburn. The Philly side first.
The Flyers need to re-stock the cupboard. Outside of a couple of prospects like defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere and forward Scott Laughton, there’s not a lot on the system for Philadelphia. It doesn’t look like they’re making a push anytime soon, so they needed to get assets.
What is curious from a Flyers standpoint is that their defence corps isn’t very good moving forward. Sure, they need to re-stock, but now they have Nick Schultz, Luke Schenn, Andrew MacDonald, and Mark Streit under contract next year for a combined cap hit over $15.5-million. The only real top-4 defenceman there is Streit, and he’ll turn 38-years-old next season.
Radko Gudas is just a body, or he should be anyway. He’s not very offensively gifted, is a poor possession player in relatively easy minutes, but plays a hard, physical game. The picks are the real win in this trade for the Flyers, because they do need to prop up their prospect pool.
Coburn is one of those players that fliers under the radar because he doesn’t really rack up the points (he hasn’t cracked 30 points since 2007-2008). There are other ways he contributes, though.
Over the last two seasons for the Flyers, Coburn has been a top-pairing guy. Not necessarily in production, but in terms of competition faced. He’s done fairly well in those minutes, pretty much breaking even in possession relative to his team overall. In fact, the Flyers allow 54.96 shot attempts per 60 minutes with Coburn on the ice without Kimmo Timonen. For reference, the St. Louis Blues allow 54.63 shot attempts per 60 minutes with Alex Pietrangelo on the ice without Jay Bouwmeester. It’s obvious Coburn is a real defensive defenceman, not like when Douglas Murray was traded for second round picks a couple of years ago.
Overall, the Lightning essentially traded Brett Connolly, Radko Gudas, a first round pick, and a third round pick for Braydon Coburn and two second round picks. Both Connolly and Gudas had been healthy scratches at time this year for the Lightning, and they added a defenceman who can slot immediately into their top-four mix.