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NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Kyle Connor

AJ Haefele Avatar
May 14, 2015

 

Get to Know Kyle Connor
Date of Birth: 12/9/1996
Place of Birth: Shelby Township, MI, USA
Ht: 6’1″  Wt: 183 lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Center
Team (League): Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

Kyle Connor is a name many people have heard in the last year as his status as a likely first round draft pick was the consensus as early as the start of last season. His success at last year’s World Junior Championship Under 18 Tournament, where he scored at least one point in every game, led USA Hockey to profile him last summer.

In his final year in the USHL, Connor scored a blistering 80 points in 56 games, including 34 goals, and he’s committed to the University of Michigan next fall. As a Michigan native born and raised, Connor is checking off his dreams one-by-one, with his selection in this summer’s NHL Draft the next on the list, followed by his becoming a Wolverine hockey player in the fall.

Still a raw prospect, Connor is a name on the rise and a player you will see rising on draft boards as the draft process plays out.

Statistics

What Scouts See

draftbuzzhockey.com:

Kyle Connor saw himself go from streaky offensive powerhouse at the start of the season to a hard to contain sniper w/ complete game focus. A gift to the U18 USA team as one of the few non-NTDP’ers, Connor was part of an exuberant and relentless young guns tandem with Auston Matthews and Shane Gersich. He was as polished as any draft eligible and evolved into a marked man combining precisely explosive bursts peppering goalies with shots.

A very decisive player with the puck, Connor has sharpness in his skating and a crisp touch on puck handling, passing, and shooting making him dangerous in the blink of an eye. His rinkwide effort and unafraid bee lining to the puck was remarkable to see from such a talented goal scorer. He showed a willingness to dig deep every shift under the spotlight, leading us to believe he has long-term allure and staying power as a well rounded, top player in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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.

What BSN Avalanche Sees

Connor is a great skater with an explosive first step who uses his elite speed to consistently put pressure on the defense and blow by opponents. He has a quick release and a good shot but his patience with the puck and vision are what drives his offensive success. He plays an intelligent game and his defensive game improved enough this past season that he saw consistent penalty killing time. Connor likes to drive to the net and is not afraid to throw his weight around.

Connor is still very raw and his dominance of the USHL speaks to his need to take the next step in competition he’s facing as he is rarely challenged anymore. He has a good frame and can add considerable strength to it as he is not currently strong on the puck. He played center in the USHL but his future is likely at wing as he has not shown the ability to consistently handle the defensive responsibilities of the pivot and his defense still has a very long way to go.

Highlights





NHL Potential

I like Connor’s game and think he could be an impact player in the NHL if his development continues at the University of Michigan next season. He’s nowhere near ready for the NHL but given a couple of years, he should find himself in the top 6 for whoever selects him and even if he doesn’t reach his full potential, he could be an extremely effective 3rd line player with game-breaking speed.

Expected Draft Position

Connor is a player who currently has near unanimous agreement amongst the major rankings out there as 4 of 5 lists (CSS, ESPN’s Corey Pronman, Future Considerations, and ISS) have him at either 12th or 13th. Per usual, Craig Button is the outlier as he has Connor ranked 7th overall. Given his profile, it’s not inconceivable that Connor could rise to the bottom half of the top 10 but he is most likely to be drafted in the 10-20 range.

How Does Kyle Connor Fit In Avalanche Organization?

In my eyes, Connor would make an excellent prospect for the Avalanche as his style of play translates very well to what Patrick Roy is trying to do with the big club. Despite being a center and the Avs being a center-heavy organization, Connor plays a high-energy, heavy game that is constantly moving forward.

While he’s not the biggest player, Connor still plays a game that involves him going to the dirty areas of the ice, a problem in recent years for the Avalanche as too many of their skill players were content hanging around the perimeter, and his tenacity would be a welcome addition to an organization that has allowed itself to get too soft recently.

Connor would be a long-term projection for the Avalanche, making him a bit unlikelier to be selected because players whose games have matured quicker, such as Lawson Crouse or Zach Werenski, could be on the board and their faster track to the NHL might make them more appealing than the raw Connor.

 

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