The Toronto Maple Leafs placed forward Tim Connolly on waivers Thursday. Connolly recorded 13 goals and 36 points in 70 games with the Maple Leafs last season. This was the final year of Connolly’s deal with Toronto that carried a $4.75M cap hit. General Manager Dave Nonis wanted to make it clear that Connolly came into training camp in great shape, but just didn’t fit into the team’s top-six forward group at the moment.
Connolly is a skillful player, but his biggest issue has always been staying healthy. He hasn’t played a full NHL season in over a decade.
The Maple Leafs will have options should no other squad claim Connolly off of waivers. They could buyout his contract making him a free agent, or simply assign him to the AHL to play with the Toronto Marlies. Should he go to the Marlies his career with the Maple Leafs may not be over. If there are any injuries or the Leafs simply need a replacement for a struggling center during the season, then Connolly could get called back up to the big club to provide an offensive spark.
With Wednesday’s trade of Matthew Lombardi and the now the Connolly move today, the Leafs appear intent on giving younger players a chance. Both decisions are a good sign for Matt Frattin who has been on the bubble during training camp.
The Leafs also lost forward Keith Aucoin on waivers to the New York Islanders today. Aucoin was not a player they wanted to part with and were hoping to sneak him through the waiver process and back down to the Marlies. Aucoin has 37 points in 34 games with the Marlies this season.