The Connolly question: will he stay or will he go?
There’s no question rookie wing Brett Connolly has impressed the Lightning in his first week in the NHL.
Connolly, the sixth overall pick in 2010, showed his guts battling in Boston, and the 19-year-old earned a spot on the top line the past two games with Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis.
“He’s surprised us,” coach Guy Boucher said. “Opened eyes.”
Said St. Louis: “He’s doing as good a job as a 19-year old can do right now.”
“He’s getting his opportunity,” Stamkos said. “And he’s taking it.”
Many Lightning fans will get their first look at Connolly in Monday's home opener against the Panthers. But the question is whether this three-game homestand will be the last they’ll see of him this season, as he has a nine-game window before he either must go down to juniors or the clock starts on his $2.7 million contract.
The answer, Boucher says, is not clear-cut.
“Right now, we’re just trying to make him adapt and it’s working, and hopefully the next games he makes it real hard for us,” Boucher said. “Sometimes you feel you gain because you have a new toy and yippee, everybody’s happy. But I’ve seen it in some players in Montreal over the years, it wasn’t the best thing to keep those guys...
“If we’re going to keep somebody it’s cause he’s ready, his contributions are solid and we’re not going to take anything away from his game and we’re going to play him...So we’re going to make sure we make the right decision for him and the organization.’
***For the fulll story on Connolly, check out Monday's Times.
-- JOE SMITH
(Editor's note: Damian Cristodero will be back on Lightning Strikes Monday)