Heat add AHL all-star Connelly

The Calgary Flames furnished the Abbotsford Heat with defensive reinforcements on Friday, swinging a trade for AHL all-star Brian Connelly.

The Calgary Flames furnished the Abbotsford Heat with defensive reinforcements on Friday, swinging a trade for AHL all-star Brian Connelly.

Connelly, formerly property of the Chicago Blackhawks, was acquired in exchange for centre Brendan Morrison.

The 25-year-old blueliner is in Atlantic City this weekend for AHL all-star festivities, marking the second consecutive campaign where he’s been recognized as an all-star. He’ll report to the Heat after the break.

Connelly is currently second in scoring among AHL blueliners, having posted 36 points (five goals, 31 assists) in 44 games with the Rockford IceHogs. He finished sixth in that category last season, when he racked up 52 points in 80 games.

Connelly told the Calgary Sun he was “excited” about the trade.

“I’m packing a large suitcase and just kind of going with it right now,” he said. “With Chicago, it didn’t work out. You’re not always gonna get your chance with your first organization. They had their plans, and I kind of knew that going into this year.

“It was the first trade in my life so it was a little strange, but I’m looking forward to an opportunity and showing the Calgary organization what I can bring.”

The Heat have also assigned backup goalie Joni Ortio to his hometown club – TPS Turku of the SM-liiga, Finland’s top hockey league. The rookie keeper posted a 1-4 record in nine appearances for Abbotsford this season, with a 2.94 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage.

Ortio’s departure coincides with the return to health of Calgary Flames backup Henrik Karlsson, who has been out since early December with a knee injury. Heat keeper Leland Irving has been up with the Flames filling in for Karlsson, who is likely ticketed for a conditioning stint in Abbotsford after the all-star break.