Centre Tim Connolly was a top draft pick of the New York Islanders and delivered the goods right away, stepping directly from his Junior club into the NHL in 1999.
Connolly was a solid scorer with the Erie Otters of the OHL when the Islanders drafted him fifth overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The Islanders, who were struggling to score, were the perfect organization for Connolly to join and he seized his opportunity by putting together a solid rookie campaign.
The young center scored 14 goals and 34 points, which was good for third in team scoring. Connolly was flattered by comparisons to Islander legend Bryan Trottier during his first season on the Island. During his second year with New York he upped his point total to 41 and again was among the team's top scorers.
However the solid start to his career was not enough to keep his name out of trade rumours and the summer of 2001 was full of them. The Islanders were poised to make some major moves in order to get the franchise back into the playoffs and re-establish itself as a contender in the East. When the deals came the Islanders were forced to sacrifice part of their core of young talent and Tim Connolly was shipped to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Mike Peca.
In Buffalo, Connolly joined a club not unlike the one he had just left, a team in transition looking to build towards something. Not only had the Sabres traded their captain, Peca, but they had also shipped out their franchise player, netminder Dominik Hasek.
Connolly improved his point total for the third straight season when he posted 45 points and placed third in team scoring for the Sabres.
After missing only three regular season games total in his first four seasons in the league, injuries began to plague Connolly's career. He missed the entire 2003-04 season with post-concussion syndrome after suffering a concussion in a pre-season game versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
In 2005-06, Connolly had a career-high 55 points in 63 regular season games, though he suffered another concussion in playoffs and missed the first 80 games of the following season.
The 2008-09 season saw continuation of Connolly's injury problems, including two cracked vertebrae and a broken rib. Connolly managed to appear in 48 games in 2008-09, putting up 47 points.
Connolly hoped to have the injury bug behind him. In 2009-10 he appeared in 73 games for the Sabres, the most games he'd played in a season in over five years. He put up a respectable 65 points.
Connolly's offensive production took a step back in 2010-11. He registered only 42 points, but worked to become a better two-way player and spent considerable time on the penalty kill.
In the summer of 2011, Connolly's time in Buffalo would come to an end. As an unrestricted free agent, he inked a two-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.