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Connelly seeks to put past mistake behind after being selected 19th by Golden Knights


LAS VEGAS (AP) — It meant little to Trevor Connelly what spot he was selected in the NHL draft — first round or beyond — due to the regrettable decision he made in the past.

What ultimately mattered to the 18-year-old is the work he put in through volunteer work and diversity training to put him on a path forward in hockey after being selected 19th overall by the draft host Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night.

“I think I could go higher, if maybe some of the stuff didn’t happened. But, honestly, it’s the happiest that I could’ve been where I got selected,” said Connelly, who’s draft stock dropped in the two years since he posted an image Snapchat — before hastily removing it — showing a friend posing in front of a collection of building blocks formed in the shape of a swastika.

He was also accused of making a racial slur during a game in 2021, though a suspension was lifted when an investigation was unable to corroborate what happened. Connelly has apologized for posting the picture, and disputed making the racial slur.

“I’ve made mistakes as a kid and I’m such a different person now,” said Connelly, who is from Tustin, California, and committed to attending Providence this year. “I think what I’ve been put through these past couple of years are for a reason. I think that it’s all going to work out for the best for me and I’ll do anything for the organization, anything for the people and I’m super excited to get started.”

GM Kelly McCrimmon said Vegas officials conducted what he called a “very extensive” background check on the player, while also meeting with Connelly at the scouting combine in Buffalo, New York, and then again this week.

“I think (he showed) some growth and some recognition of some areas where he had made mistakes and recognized that,” McCrimmon said. “He was very candid, transparent, didn’t duck any of the questions that we asked of him.”

Not in question are the 6-foot, 156-pound forward’s abilities.

Connelly is coming off a season with the Tri-City Storm in which he finished second in the USHL with 78 points (31 goals, 47 assists) in 52 games. He has also represented the U.S., most recently winning a silver medal at the 2024 Under-18 world championships.

Cap Unfriendly

Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan uses CapFriendly all the time to look up salary information and other data around the NHL. Soon, he and members of the organization will be the only ones with access after the Capitals bought the website this month.

Suffice it to say, his colleagues are not thrilled at having that tool taken away from them.

“I don’t think anybody’s happy,” MacLellan said on a video call with reporters Thursday. “The whole industry is not very happy about it.”

CapFriendly is still available through the draft and start of free agency next week before the public side of it goes dark sometime in July.

“Our biggest fear was it was going to go away and we weren’t going to be able to use it,” said MacLellan, who added the front office looked into making its own site before realizing it was too expensive and time-consuming. “We can build off it. We have the people that created it, so we can build and we can hopefully become more efficient as an organization on salary cap decisions, CBA decisions and then use it on our analytics side, too: create a format that works for us that way.”

Firsts from Norway

Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, Detroit’s choice at No. 15, made history as the first player from Norway drafted in the first round. Brandsegg-Nygard played in the Swedish Hockey League last season, and his heard his name called at the draft by a Hall of Famer from that Scandanavian nation, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Stian Stolberg became the second player from Norway taken in the first round not long after, when Anaheim traded up to select him at No. 23. Goaltending coach Sudarshan “Sudsy” Maharaj, who recently beat cancer, announced the Ducks’ selection.

Crosby extension?

Sidney Crosby is a little over a year from potentially becoming a free agent. But the three-time Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins captain and his camp have discussed an extension with general manager Kyle Dubas, which could not actually be signed until Monday, anyway.

“We’re talking,” Crosby said Friday on a video call with reporters to discuss the upcoming 4 Nations Face-Off. “There’s been a little but of talk, I think with the draft and free agency and stuff like that. It’s something that I’ll keep between Kyle and I, but we’ve had some conversations and I’ll just kind of leave it at that. ... We’ll see what happens.”

The Penguins, with Dubas in charge, remain in win-now mode. Center Evgeni Malkin is signed through 2026 and defenseman Kris Letang through 28.

Crosby turns 37 before next season.


AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP freelance writer W.G. Ramirez contributed to this report.