The Panthers announced this afternoon that Connor Brickley has been reassigned to the Portland Pirates of the AHL. This comes as somewhat of a surprising move considering Brickley impresssed during the preseason and looked solid as a bottom-6 player in the 10 games he played with the Panthers.
Connor Brickley made the Panthers out of training camp after recording a team-leading 2 goals in 4 preseason games and 3 goals in 3 rookie tournament games in mid-September. He recorded his first career NHL goal on October 13th in his 3rd game against the Carolina Hurricanes and also has 2 assists. He has worked incredibly hard each time he has stepped onto the ice, although he was oddly scratched for the entirety of the Panthers’ recent 3-game road-trip to California during which they went 0-2-1.
This is certainly a real head-scratcher. It’s unclear as to why the team decided to return him to the AHL, and while Gerard Gallant told the Miami Herald today that he took some penalties that they didn’t like, that’s not really a good reason for a roster move when he didn’t really cost the team a game. With the Panthers in the midst of a funk, they could certainly use a fresh body like Brickley who has brought lots of speed and energy to all of the games he’s played in. With Gallant being a coach that likes to roll 4 lines even when the team is losing in the 3rd period, it’s important to have the 3 best forwards on the ice (aside from the top line) and a good example of this is when Brickley made a great pass to Derek MacKenzie from behind the net in Pittsburgh which lead to the game-tying goal and forced overtime. Brickley also earned a primary assist on the goal that came under 3 minutes before that to get the Panthers back in the game.
That aside, he’ll be joining a Portland Pirates team that is struggling as the result of the injury bug. Brett Olson, Greg McKegg, and Corban Knight are all out for several weeks and Brickley will likely bring them some much needed offensive support. The Pirates also lost Garrett Wilson and Rocco Grimaldi as both were called up by the Panthers over the past couple of weeks.This isn’t the last we’ll see of Brickley if his hard work and determination to make an impact over the past several weeks is any indication, but it’s definitely an odd move with the situation the Panthers are currently in.