BOSTON — On March 2 of this year, Brett Connolly found out he’d been traded from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Boston Bruins.
Two days later, he learned his season likely was over.
And although the fractured hand Connolly suffered during his second Bruins practice ultimately healed in time for him to play in Boston’s final five games, the 23-year-old right wing knows he has plenty to prove before the 2015-16 campaign begins three weeks from Thursday.
“For sure,” Connolly said on the first day of Bruins training camp. “Obviously, when you’re a new guy — and there are a few new faces here — you want to make your mark on a new team. I’m going to get a lot of opportunity this year — a lot more than I have in the past — and I’m looking to embrace that.”
Connolly, who signed a one-year contract in July to remain with the B’s, will contend for one of the voids on the wing created by the offseason departures of Milan Lucic and Reilly Smith. Boston’s new-look forward corps also will feature the team’s two marquee additions: Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes.
“Obviously, I’m not too sure how it’s going to look right off the bat,” Connolly said, “but I’m sure (head coach Claude Julien) is going to try some different looks and let it come together quickly. We’ve got a couple of practices before the exhibition games, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens here.”
“It’s going to be a fun year,” he continued. “Obviously, it’s a great city, great fans. We’ve got a great leadership core here, guys that have won. It’s a good position for me and a lot of the new guys here to come in and be a factor and be a difference-maker. So, we’re all excited.”
Connolly appeared in 55 total games between Boston and Tampa Bay last season, tallying 12 goals and five assists.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins right wing Brett Connolly battles for position vs. Toronto.