Cory Conacher is back with us. After an excellent year with the Syracuse Crunch, which saw him chosen for AHL second-team All-Star honors, the Tampa Bay Lightning organization saw fit to reward him with a two-year contract. His first year will be a one-way contract paying him $650,000 whether he plays in the NHL or AHL. His second year will be a two-way contract that pays him $650,000 while in the NHL and a lower rate in the AHL. His AHL salary and possible guarantees above that salary have not been reported as of yet.
Conacher scored 17G/43A in 56 games for Syracuse, and 1G/3A in 11 Tampa Bay Lightning matches. He led the AHL in playoff goals and points last season, taking his team six games into the Calder Cup final before the Crunch fell to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
The one-way contract during the first season is likely a move to offset any larger contract Conacher would receive in Europe — Conacher played the 2015-16 season with NLA’s SC Bern. Although Conacher initially returned to the US because he was told he’d have a position in the NHL by Julien BriseBois, his impact was felt on the Crunch. He also earned a bonus for additional time spent in the AHL playoffs, and if the Crunch go on another deep run, can count that money toward his salary as well.
Conacher’s nickname from his 2012-13 season with the Norfolk Admirals was Honey Badger, and it has remained with him through this most recent playoff run. Our Syracuse Crunch writers were grateful for his presence during the AHL regular season:
Conacher paces the Crunch roster in scoring despite missing time with an injury and a stint with the Lightning. In 41 games played, he has only hit the back of the net ten times, but his abilities to create chances off of the rush and open up ice has made him one of the league’s best playmakers. To go along with those ten tallies, he has notched 32 assists for a season total of 42 points. He is third on the roster in shots on goal and is averaging over a point-per-game just over halfway through the campaign, which earned him a spot on the 2017 AHL All-Star team.
Conacher shows no fear on the ice and is constantly finding himself in scrums with guys twice his size. He is one of the Crunch’s offensive catalysts, a locker room leader, a protector, and a ‘Cuse fan favorite. It’s been a crazy five years or so for number 89, but if it was up to the Crunch fanbase, he’s welcome to settle down and find a home in the heart of New York.
This depth signing is a good one, shoring up both the Crunch’s first line and the Bolts’ fourth line. His veteran presence in Syracuse will also be felt with so many young rookies set to join the Crunch this season. If Erik Condra doesn’t return to Syracuse, Conacher would certainly be a candidate to wear the C for the Crunch.