After a handful of unnecessary healthy scratches, stints on the teams fourth line and reduced ice time, the Winnipeg Jets have finally sent Kyle Connor to the Manitoba Moose. The long overdue move finally came to fruition this morning and for the sake of Connor’s long and short term development, this is the only move that could have been made.
For the last five consecutive games, Connor, 19, was warming a seat in the press box. It can be a useful tactic to have a young prospect sit out a game or two to see the ice from a different perspective, but for five games? That’s far too long. Before Connor was healthy scratched, his minutes were decreasing drastically and his role with the Jets was diminishing.
This decision dragged out for far too long and honestly, wasn’t handled properly. It’s a real head scratching move that even in a game like last night’s against a speedy New York Rangers team, the quick and skilled Kyle Connor wasn’t inserted in to the lineup. Obviously the Jets think Connor needs more fine tuning down with the Moose, and that’s fine, but the decision seemed to be have been made weeks ago and instead of sending Connor down, Winnipeg had him sit out for five games and lose some quality ice-time.
It’s not good to have your top prospect held out of action in both the AHL and the NHL for 10 days.
Kyle Connor played less than Chris Thorburn again. Don’t understand how this is the best case for his development.
— Arctic Ice Hockey (@arcticicehockey) November 30, 2016
Looking onward for Connor, assimilating in to a young Moose team with plenty of talent isn’t going to be a piece of cake. The Moose have loads of young exciting talent up front and Connor may have to work his way up to a top minute role. Once Connor gets back in to game shape, he should have no issue evolving in to a top contributor for the Moose.
In terms of Connor’s development, this is the only logical move that could have been made. The Jets have had young contributors step up and we’ve seen Connor stumble down the depth chart in the process. He needed to get some playing time somewhere whether it be with the Jets or the Moose.
Anywhere but the press box.
The former Hobey Baker finalist’s confidence surely isn’t at it’s peak and quality minutes and opportunity with the Moose could give his morale a much needed boost. Most importantly, Connor’s rocky start shouldn’t undermine the long term potential he has.
We’re still talking about the same player that recorded 71 points in his freshman season at Michigan. He’s got the tools to become a really solid contributor for the Jets and it may not be this year, and that’s totally fine.
After getting some seasoning in the AHL, he may even find himself back with the Jets this season, or he may not. Thankfully the Jets don’t need to rush Connor and the young forwards struggles have been held somewhat out of the spotlight. The Jets have players like Nic Petan, Marko Dano and Andrew Copp that seem to have earned full-time spots with the Jets and that means we may see Connor stay with the Moose for the remainder of the season.
He’s 19 years old and came right out of college, he could use some AHL time.
It’s only logical to give Connor some time in the AHL and build him back his confidence. While it would be nice if they could get the speedy winger thriving in a top-six role this season, his long-term future and development is the number one priority and sending him down was the only move that could have been made.