by Corey Pronman
The Calgary Flames and Chicago Blackhawks made a minor trade Friday with Brendan Morrison and his expiring contract (and career) going to the Blackhawks for defenseman prospect Brian Connelly.
Connelly currently is 25 years old in the AHL, is an UFA at the end of the season and there was really no path forward for him in Chicago. The NHL team is stacked, Dylan Olsen’s significant progression ended up with him passing Connelly on the depth chart and Shawn Lalonde is as well despite his poor season this year in Rockford.
Connelly will get a better chance in Calgary, although the Flames shouldn’t expect a whole lot out of him. Connelly has been one of the AHL’s most dynamic offensive defensemen the last two seasons as he’s a tremendous passer who can really run a power play and can make the occasional “wow” type of distribution. He’s an above-average skater who can lead/join the rush well and has a nice overall skill package. Aside from his underwhelming size, Connelly’s main issue has been his defensive game as years ago he was considered horrible in that area and while with time he has shown improvement it still isn’t really sufficient for top level hockey when you take into account his frame.
I think he still has a shot though to be a 6/7 defenseman in the NHL who has to be guarded usage-wise and can be a quite notable power play specialist but most likely he’s an AHLer.