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The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No.14 Brett Connolly

The 25 Most Important Players for the Caps: No.14 Brett Connolly

Every player on an NHL team plays a role.Some, of course, play bigger roles than others.

In the coming weeks, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.

Today’s player: No. 14 Brett Connolly

General manager Brian MacLellan took a chance on Brett Connolly last summer. He had not lived up to his potential after getting drafted sixth overall in the 2010 draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins chose not to issue him a qualifying offer in 2017 making him an unrestricted free agent.

MacLellan gambled with a one-year, $850,000 contract and the move paid off. Connolly scored 23 points including a career-high 15 goals in very limited minutes. That earned him a second contract with the Caps and, one would assume, a much bigger role.

RELATED: CAPITALS FACEOFF PODCAST: A SLIM OVECHKIN RETURNS TO WASHINGTON

With a cap hit of only $850,000 last season, everything Connolly did was a bonus for Washington. The move was extremely low-risk. This season, Connolly’s cap hit will be $1.5 million. While that certainly won’t break the bank, it does come with increased expectations.

But there is a reason Connolly was a healthy scratch for six games in the playoffs last season. A lack of versatility will continue to limit him.

Connolly is not a penalty killer, and, given the team’s talent offensively, he’s not likely to get much time on the power play either. He may get some with the loss of Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams, but not a lot. As he is projected to start the season on the third line again, just how much more significant his role can be is a fair question to ask.

The difference now is that Connolly will not come into the season having to earn his spot. That fact limited him to only 66 games and 10:41 of ice time per night and he was still able to score 15 goals. What will he be able to produce with 13-15 minutes for 80 games? The answer to that question is why Connolly comes in at No. 14 on our list.

 Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out previous player profiles below.

— No. 25 Aaron Ness
— No. 24 Chandler Stephenson
— No. 23 Riley Barber
 No. 22 Pheonix Copley
— No. 21 Devante Smith-Pelly
— No. 20 Taylor Chorney
— No. 19 Nathan Walker

 No. 18 Philipp Grubauer
 No. 17 Christian Djoos

— No. 16 Madison Bowey
— No. 15 Jay Beagle

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Barry Trotz thinks Alex Ovechkin will be fine after injury scare at practice

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Barry Trotz thinks Alex Ovechkin will be fine after injury scare at practice

Alex Ovechkin limped to the locker room late in Monday’ practice and did not return, but Coach Barry Trotz said he thinks the Caps’ captain is going to be okay.

Ovechkin, who is tied for the league lead in goals with 10, was participating in a spirited 2-on-2 battle drill when he got “tangled up” with a teammate and went down.

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Trotz said. “I got to talk to the trainers here. He got tangled up there; it’s a contact sport.”

RELATED: UPPER-BODY INJURY KEEPS BURAKOVSKY OUT OF PRACTICE MONDAY

After slowly getting up to his skates, Ovechkin gingerly skated his way to the bench at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with the assistance of head athletic trainer Jason Serbus.

Serbus examined Ovechkin on the bench before No. 8 limped to the locker room.

Ovechkin did not return to ice and was not available to reporters immediately afterward.

“I think he’s going to be okay,” Trotz said. “I’ll have a better idea a little bit later today or tomorrow. He just got tangled up.”

MORE CAPITALS: CAPS TUMBLE DOWN POWER RANKINGS AFTER ROUGH WEEK

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Upper-body injury keeps Andre Burakovsky out of practice

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Upper-body injury keeps Andre Burakovsky out of practice

Capitals winger Andre Burakovsky did not practice on Monday morning due to an upper-body injury, the team announced.

Although the Caps did not specify the location or the nature of the injury, replays showed Burakovsky remove his left glove and flex his hand after drawing a hooking foul with about two minutes remaining in Washington’s 4-1 loss to Florida. He was also examined by team doctors after the game.

RELATED: CAPS TUMBLE IN LATEST POWER RANKINGS

Burakovsky has a goal and three assists in nine games this season.

With Burakovsky sidelined on Monday, Coach Barry Trotz shuffled his forward lines, promoting Alex Chiasson to the second combo with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov while dropping Jakub Vrana to the third line with Brett Connolly and Lars Eller. Burakovsky’s injury also drew Nathan Walker back into the regular rotation; he was on the left side of the fourth line.  

The Caps do not play again until Thursday in Vancouver so they’ve got time to evaluate Burakovsky’s progress and weigh their options if he is unable to suit up.

Burakovsky missed 15 games with a broken right hand last season.

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