Tampa Bay Lightning
Brett Connolly (born May 2, 1992, Prince George, BC, Canada) plays right wing for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was named the WHL and CHL Rookie of the Year in 2008–09 after becoming the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals in the WHL in 13 years. He was selected sixth overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Internationally, Connolly has represented Canada at the 2009 U18 World Championships and the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Born in Campbell River, British Columbia, Connolly was selected by his hometown Prince George Cougars as their first selection, 10th overall, in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft. As a 15-year-old, he played major midget for the Caribou Cougars in Prince George, and appeared in four WHL games. He joined the WHL Cougars full time in 2008–09, scoring 30 goals and 30 assists in 65 games. In doing so, Connolly became the first 16-year-old to score 30 goals in the WHL since Patrick Marleau in 1995–96. He was named the winner of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as WHL rookie of the year in recognition of his season, also capturing the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year.
Connolly won a silver medal with Team Pacific at the 2009 World U-17 Hockey Challenge. He then joined the Canadian U18 team for the 2009 IIHF World U18 Championships as an under aged player and scored six points in six games for the fourth place team. Connolly also played in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August 2009 where he suffered a hip injury. The injury has bothered him into the 2009–10 WHL season, as he missed some early-season games due to it, and while named to play in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game, he was forced out of the game due to the injury.
Connolly was highly ranked for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was listed as the sixth best player amongst North American skaters for the draft by International Scouting services. NHL Central Scouting ranked him fourth overall amongst North American skaters in the midterm rankings despite the injury that has limited him to playing only 12 of the Cougar's first 46 games. In the final rankings, Central Scouting ranked Connolly third among North American skaters. Scouts have described Connolly as a natural leader with good on-ice awareness.
Connolly made Team Canada's roster for the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo.
Connolly made the Lightning in 2011 out of training camp. He scored his first NHL goal on November 1, 2011 against Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes. During his NHL rookie season the Lightning loaned him to Canada's national junior team for a second appearance in the IIHF World U20 Championships.