Evaluating Tim Connolly
Yesterday I described my player analysis method and used Brad Richards as an example. Over the next little while I’ll apply my analysis method to a number of players so if there are any players you are interested in seeing my analysis for let me know. First up is Tim Connolly. The Leafs lost out on the Brad Richards sweepstakes so lets take a look at how Tim Connolly stacks up.
Let’s start off with a table of what I consider Tim Connolly’s most pertinent information – his 5v5 HARO+ (offense), HARD+ (defense) and HART+ (overall) ratings over the years.
|Season(s)||HARO+||HARO+ Rank||HARD+||HARD+ Rank||HART+||HART+ Rank|
Generally speaking Connolly’s offensive rankings have been well over 1.00 and ranking very highly among all forwards with at minimum 500 minutes of 5v5 time per season and his defensive rankings have been middle of the pack.
Based on Connolly’s offensive statistics he is legitimately a first line center though he has played against relatively weak defensive competition (232/310 in 4 yr OppGA20) as he has played behind Derek Roy in Buffalo. Last year he played against somewhat tougher defensive competition than he did in 2008-09 and 2009-10 as Derek Roy was injured for more than half the season and he had his worst offensive (and defensive) season so that should be a bit of a concern for Leaf fans. Still, one season is too short to draw any conclusions so it could just be an anomaly as well but it is something to watch for next season as he’ll likely be given top line duty in Toronto with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul and play against the oppositions better defensive players.
Of interest to Leaf fans who have suffered through several years of poor PP and PK play is Connolly’s special team numbers. Over the past 4 seasons Connolly has been played a significant role on Buffalo’s power play and the results have generally been good (his 4 year 5v4 HARO+ rating is 1.169). Connolly has also played a fair amount (about 100 min/season) on the Buffalo PK unit and his performance has been better than what one would expect from his 5v5 defensive numbers. His 4-year 4v5 PK HARD+ rating is a more than respectable 1.196 so maybe he can play defense when is he trying to stop the opposition from scoring as opposed to trying to produce offense himself.
Based purely on his performance over the past 4 seasons it seems Connolly is a more than reasonable gamble as one could argue he has legitimate first line offensive capabilities and is at least middle of the pack defensively. The big question of course with Connolly is his health. Has has played just 48, 48, 73 and 68 games over the past 4 seasons. The good news is he hasn’t had a significant concussion in several years and his injuries over the past couple of seasons have been non-serious in nature. If he can be healthy enough to play 70+ games I think a year from now we could look back and say that Connolly was one of the better free agent signings of the 2011 off season, even with a $4.75M cap hit.