When you are a legend in hockey, you are very rarely questioned about decisions you make. However, that’s not the case for GM Steve Yzerman today. With the sixth pick in the 2010 draft, Yzerman selected a player that has many questioning his first pick. That player is Brett Connolly, winger from Prince George in the Western Hockey League. Connolly was rated by some scouts as having the best pure offensive goal-scoring ability in this year’s draft class.
Connolly was rated third on the draft board by the Central Scouting Service and number four by Hockey News. However, its not his ability that has the critics questioning the selection, it was the hip injury that caused Connolly to only play in 16 games this year. Yzerman stated on the draft coverage that the injury was not a concern; it was a muscle injury, and with time, it will not be a concern at all.
It also didnt help that there were two elite defenseman available when the Bolts were ready to select. With Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley on the board, most of the pundits would have expected Yzerman to go in that direction. This team has struggled for a couple of seasons on their blue line. So Fowler or Gormley should have been selected to be paired with last year’s second overall pick, Victor Hedman, to form a solid blue line pairing for a decade.
I think Yzerman made a great selection. Connolly is a stud offensive player with natural ability. He has to believe that he will be able to plug Connolly in the lineup within the next two years. Contrast that with the fact that it seems to take young blue liners much longer to actually develop to the NHL level. So Yzerman is rolling the dice; he has to believe that being an elite hockey player himself he knows the type of injury Connolly has, and that its not going to be a problem in the future. So will the hockey icon come up smelling like a rose, or not? Well, Brett Connolly is going to have something to say about that.
The Lightning has no selection in the second round but three in the third round, so we will have to stay tuned to see what Steve Yzerman has in store for the team’s future selections in this year’s draft.