WILMINGTON — Before Brett Connolly flew to Boston, he had one final meal in Tampa, a last dinner of sorts, at noted eatery Bern's Steak House. But by 11 a.m. Tuesday, when he took to the ice for the Bruins, his Lightning days had been left behind.
Connolly, the newest member of the Bruins, joined the team for practice, wearing a burgundy fourth-line jersey, and skating with Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly, and Brian Ferlin. Though, as coach Claude Julien said, no decision has been made on where he'll end up playing.
"I'll have to see," Julien said. "I think he's got skill. I know he can shoot the puck, but we'll see how he fits in with our hockey club and where he fits in with time.
"I think Connolly, once we see him, we might realize that he's a pretty good player. I know he's got a good shot, good size. I know for a fact that in Tampa Bay when you're playing behind the [Ryan] Callahans that are righties, [Steven] Stamkos, it's hard.
"But we certainly have a shortage of righthanded shots here. So I would expect him to help us immediately."
Connolly seems ready for a new chance, helping in that area of need, now and in the future. He believes that he has more to show than he has shown so far in his young career.
"Obviously for me, I wasn't expecting it," said Connolly, who was taken sixth overall in the 2010 draft. "But I'm very excited. Fresh start. Obviously I thought I found my game a little bit this year. Excited that Boston wanted me. So I'm excited to get going. It was a good first day."
He flew in Tuesday morning, taking the ice a few minutes later than his new teammates. He spent the morning getting to know people, getting introductions done, as he figures out where he can make the most impact.
The 22-year-old right winger, acquired for two second-round picks, has played 50 games this season, recording 12 goals and 3 assists, and was most recently playing with the third line in Tampa. GM Peter Chiarelli, however, referred to him Monday as a top-six talent. That, though, might be in the future.
At the moment, there are options. There are multiple places where the Bruins and Julien could slot him in.
"I know there's going to be some good competition," Julien said. "It's up to me and my coaching staff with the players to make it work. We feel we have a good team, now it's a matter of going out and showing it."
The Bruins believe they could use a player with the ability to shoot, to score, to add goals to a team that needs them. As Connolly said, if he gets the puck in a shooting area, he's going to put it on net.
“For myself, I’ve got a lot to prove,” Connolly said. “I’m excited to produce and help the team win down the stretch, obviously in a playoff [race], so just want to be a part of it. Want to help out and do my best.”