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Winnipeg Jets Top 25 Under 25: #9 Kyle Connor

Is this the straw that finally breaks Berenson's back?

Kyle Connor along the boards during the 2014 World Juniors.
Kyle Connor along the boards during the 2014 World Juniors.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
















#17, 2015











Previous Rank: n/a

I'll just say this now: if it wasn't for fear of "shiny new toy syndrome" with Connor, I would have him in my top 5. I've had the pleasure of watching Connor since he was sixteen with Youngstown in the USHL, and I see a star in the making.

A strong, quick skater with comparisons to NHL fan favourite Matt Duchene, Connor will be playing this season with the Michigan Wolverines. At season's end, this could in turn lead Wolverines Head Coach Red Berenson to fight Chevy for taking all of his players (see: Trouba, Jacob and Copp, Andrew) early.


AIH Authors' Thoughts:


Imagine the line of Connor at LW, Harkins at C and Roslovic at RW? That, my friends, is the future of the Jets. Scouting reports suggest time to fill out and mature, just like his future linemates. I agree. Let them ripen, and they could be the 3rd line next year the Jets so desperately need.


Unless you expect your offensive gamebreakers to also have Milan Lucic physicality and stature, there's very little not to like about Kyle Connor's game. He's got the kind of speed which can absolutely embarrass defenders, and couples this with a laundry list of strengths you want to hear a prospect has: creativity, vision, intelligence, and soft hands equally adept at making a play or taking the shot.

Considering his age and talent, the fact that there are attractive two-way and puck possession aspects to his game is icing on the cake. His all-situations skill set makes for a rather complete package, and I'm quite willing to believe Brian's Matt Duchene comparable as a projected ceiling.


Next to Nikolaj Ehlers, Kyle Connor is perhaps the most gifted prospect that the Winnipeg Jets 2.0 have drafted. He is a phenomenal skater and he thinks the game at an incredibly high level. The high end thinking isn't purely reserved for the offensive end of the rink, like Nic Petan, Connor brings a smart two-way game to his team. My hope is that we see Connor transition back to center at some point in his college career, but he will remain a high-end prospect regardless of position.

Outside Sources:

The Hockey News:

Assets: Has a projectable frame and plenty of speed and quickness (he's strong in his lower body). Can score goals at every level, as well as set up his linemates with aplomb. Thinks the game well and has plenty of two-way upside.

Flaws: Needs to fill out his 6-1 frame and gain greater upper-body strength in order to maximize his long-range potential at the National Hockey League level. Must also become a more consistent player in all three zones.

Potential: Speedy, talented and versatile forward with upside.

Future Considerations:

A smart two-way forward who sets up his linemates with well-timed passes…is mature and intelligent with the puck, and does not rush a play no matter the pressure he is under…has impressive hands and vision, but it is the creativity and hockey sense that make him most dangerous…sees lanes opening and hits his targets consistently…also has a decent one-timer, but is definitely a pass-first guy… plays well away from the puck, constantly moving in order to get open…not overly physical…comes back deep into his own zone to make himself available…needs to add considerable strength, but the potential is there.

Greg Rajanen, NHL Central Scouting:

"He's a solid two-way player and plays hard in both zones. Nice stride and quickness and good in tight with the puck."

Chris Dilks, SBNation College Hockey:

"Kyle Connor is one of the most explosive offensive talents available in this year's Draft. He's got tremendous acceleration which allows him to create separation in tight spaces and has high-end straight line speed which makes him difficult to defend in one-on-one rushes. Perhaps more importantly, Connor has the skill and scoring ability to do something with the offensive opportunities he creates with his speed. He has a very quick, dangerous release on his shot and his vision and playmaking ability is above average."



Connor’s ceiling is a number one centre like the aforementioned Matt Duchene. However, when he makes the pro jump I project him to be a first line left winger who can move to centre if need be. Aside from his lack of bulk, Connor isn't as far off from being NHL ready as one would think. With the talent that he has, I don't see Connor being at Michigan for very long, and he could be a one-and-done like another Jets bright spot in Jacob Trouba.

How long do you think Connor will be a Wolverine? Where do you see him ending up when he eventually makes the NHL roster? Let us know down in the comments!