The Winnipeg Jets picked Kyle Connor at seventeenth overall and we are pretty stoked.
Not only was Kyle Connor ranked seventh overall on our draft list at the Nation Network, but Connor was the best player available by our board.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers for this offensive juggernaut.
- Age: 17.81 years old at start of season. Born December 9, 1996
- Birthplace: Shelby Township, Michigan
- Frame: 6’1, 183 lbs
- Position: C
- Draft Year Team: Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
- Accomplishments: 2014 World U-18 Gold Medal, 2014 USHL First-Team All-Star, 2014 World Junior A Challenge Gold Medal, 2015 USHL First-Team All-Star, 2015 USHL Scoring Leader, 2015 USHL Forward of the Year, 2015 USHL Player of the Year
PCS = Our Player Cohort Success model. Click here for more information about PCS.
PCS looks at players who perform similarly in scoring at the same age and with similar size. Here’s the thing… elite players don’t have many cohorts because they are that good. They are exceptional players and it’s rare for others to perform equally as well.
Connor is one of those types of players.
In his draft year, he led the USHL in scoring by 9 points while in his 16 year-old season he was 2nd in the league. Players in his 17 year-old cohort included Paul Stastny, Erik Cole, and Max Pacioretty, while his 16 year-old cohort included Colin Wilson, Brandon Saad, and Thomas Vanek. If you make the (pretty safe) assumption that both Matt Nieto and Jason Zucker will hit 200 career NHL games, that would give Connor an 88% PCS% as a 16-year old, and a 100% 17-year old PCS% since 1996 – as close to a guaranteed NHL player as anyone not named “McDavid” or “Eichel.”
To stress test his PCS results a bit, I did a bit of digging into the overall makeup of his Youngstown team, to try to discern whether Connor was really this good, or maybe his results were inflated based on being on a really good team, as is quite common in the junior ranks. This year, Youngstown had one of the better offenses in the USHL, scoring at a 3.9 goals/game clip, but it was clear Connor was driving the bus, contributed on 37% of the team’s total points, and 16% of the teams goals. To provide context, this is pretty comparable some of the top CHL players in this year’s draft, the closest match being Dylan Strome (TmPT% 39.5%, TmG% 11.4%).
What is even more impressive was his results from his 16 year-old season, where the Phantoms had a far less potent offense, scoring 2.9 goals/game, and they had to lean even more heavily on the then 16 year-old Connor (TmPT% 46%, TmG% 19%). He didn’t have the benefit of having team mates of the quality of Connor McDavid, Strome, or Max Domi, and it’s clear he was the one driving the success of this year’s Youngstown team.
That’s quite the story for a player selected at 17th overall.
We are talking about a guy who 88 per cent of 16-year-olds and 100 per cent of 18-year-olds who are statistically similar made the NHL. That’s top five selection type numbers.
Overall it looks like the Jets are getting a player who has offense, and offense to burn.
Last year the Jets played it smart, resisted trading up, and selected an elite and under appreciated talent in Nikolaj Ehlers. From all accounts it looks like the Jets pulled it off once again and got a latent that should have not been available this late in the game.