In his return to South Florida this season, Florida Panthers forward Connor Brickley worked tremendously hard to attain and keep his spot on the roster.
In his rookie season, Connor Brickley began his National Hockey League career with the Florida Panthers, participating in 23 of the 82 games in the 2015-16 season. He collected one goal and four assists that year, usually playing in the bottom six. After one season in the big leagues, Connor then moved himself to the minors to play for the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.
Fast forward a bit, and Brickley soon returned to Florida for the upcoming 2017-18 season. Although, he wasn’t exactly on the team at first, as he had to earn his spot. He played on the preseason roster for the Panthers, trying to win over the right to play in Florida.
The American-born forward scored 2 goals against the Nashville Predators and 1 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning, exceeding original expectations. At an instant, Connor Brickley was deemed as a Florida Panther once again.
The game of Connor Brickley has never been described as pure offensive talent. His preseason point producing success was a surprise to most, as his playing style differs a little. His game consists of one similar to the strategy of the Vegas Golden Knights, hard work. Brickley’s game has two components, determination and persistence.
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He started the season on the third line with forwards like Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann, picking up a goal in the first game of the season. He received a pass from defenseman Alex Petrovic for a wide open net to beat goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Since that night, Brickley was a regular for the team’s third line. He helped balance the talents of Bjugstad and McCann with a bit of grit.
However, when things started to go great for Brickley, he’d run into an obstacle. In a home game against the Anaheim Ducks, Connor suddenly collided with Ducks forward Derek Grant. As a spectator of the game, this hit in person look extremely painful for Brickley. He got up to then start limping to the bench, while then proceeding to head down the tunnel to the locker room. This injury was obviously a setback, but just like his playing style, Connor never stopped working to come back.
As time progressed, the injury finally went away, as the doctors cleared him for play once again. In his first contest back, the Cats played the New York Rangers, losing in overtime, with Brickley having no points and a -2 rating. This game was the last for a while for Connor, as he started a long stretch watching games as a healthy scratched player.
Soon enough, he returned to playing action, continuing his trend of being in and out of the lineup. At some points he’d play, and at other times he’d score in games like the ones against the Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals, or would sit as a scratch like he had previously. This was the rest of the season for Brickley, stretches of in and out play, either in the lineup or scratched.
In his return to the Panthers, Connor Brickley brought out the best of his playing style for the team. He worked hard and did the best he could to try to get the Panthers in the playoffs. But the main question remains: will the Panthers re-sign Brickley or let him walk off via free agency?