After three and a half seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, Kevin Connauton and a third-round pick were traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Carl Soderberg. Connauton was by no means a star with the Coyotes, but he was a serviceable defenseman who had his best season in the desert.
Connauton’s path to the Coyotes was a long one. The Edmonton, Alberta native was drafted 83rd overall in 2009 by the Vancouver Canucks, although he would never suit up for Vancouver. He would prove to be solid player in the AHL, eventually playing in the 2012 AHL All-Star Game as a member of the Chicago Wolves, but Vancouver traded him and a second-round pick on April 2013 to the Dallas Stars for Derek Roy.
With Dallas Connauton made his NHL debut on October 24th against the Calgary Flames. He would split the 2013-14 season between the Stars and the Texas Stars, playing in 36 games in his first NHL season. And while he would start the next season with the Stars he was claimed off of waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets after only 8 games with the Stars during the 2014-15 season.
A fresh start in Columbus would prove to be a good one for Connauton. He would set then career highs in games played (54), goals (9), and assists (10). Despite starting the following season with the Blue Jackets, he again found himself placed on waivers for the second straight season. After playing in 27 games with Columbus and recording a goal and seven assists, Connauton was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes.
After a bit of a slow start in Columbus, Connauton found success after being claimed by the Coyotes. During the 2015-16 season he would play 38 games in Arizona and record four goals and five assists. This short sample inspired the Coyotes brass and he was rewarded with a two-year, $2 million contract extension.
Things didn’t go too well during the first year of his new deal. Connauton saw himself limited to just 24 games, the fewest games in an NHL season of his career. That season would also feature him being sent to the Tucson Roadrunners for a two-game conditioning stint, his first time playing in the AHL since the 2013-14 season.
After a season which saw him having limited ice time and being sent to the AHL, Kevin Connauton would need a big season for the final year of his deal. He would get it, finishing with a career high in games played (73) and goals (11). It was enough to earn him a raise and another two-year extension, this time for $2.75 million.
Unfortunately for Connauton things things seemed to change. Last season he played much better defensively, but he also played fewer games (50). His offensive numbers would also see a decline and he would finish the 2018-19 season with only a goal and six assists.
This past season the Coyotes began to move away from Connauton on the bottom pairing, relying more on newcomers Ilya Lyubushkin and Jordan Oesterle. Combine that with players like Kyle Capobianco seeming ready to make the leap to the NHL and the team drafting defenseman Victor Soderstrom and things weren’t looking good for Connauton’s future in the desert.
In his time with the Coyotes Connauton demonstrated that he can generate offense and be a defensively solid bottom pairing defenseman, albeit at different times. If he can do both at once he could prove to be a jack-of-all-trades bottom-pairing defenseman. And if nothing else, Connauton has shown that he can excel during his contract years making his upcoming season in Colorado an interesting one to watch.