Kyle Connor understands that being a full-fledged NHL player doesn’t happen overnight.
“Obviously you want to be playing with the big club, but I look at it as a chance to be better, (and) work on those little things and when the chance comes (to play in the NHL, you need to) be ready for it,” Connor said after his team’s 1-0 shootout loss to the Rockford IceHogs.
After cracking the Jets lineup out of training camp, Connor was sent down to the Moose on December 9th after stints on the team’s fourth line and as a healthy scratch. Since the demotion, Connor has developed all facets of his game with the Moose while recording 18 points in 31 games with the Moose
Since being re-assigned to the Moose, Connor’s made an effort to work on the little things that are crucial to crack an NHL lineup. “Defensive zone (play), stick position, where you are in the defensive zone..” Connor said. “I think all of that came from playing (with the Moose).” Last night’s game against the Rockford IceHogs may have seen Connor go scoreless, but his impact was felt by doing the little things right.
“I thought that was his best game of the year so far.” Moose head coach Pascal Vincent said. “He was on the puck, he was fighting to get the puck back, he was driving the net and using his skills properly..the part of his game that is improving in a big way is his defensive awareness.” Vincent continued.
“I thought he was the best player on the ice tonight.”
Kyle Connor has had a pretty good game tonight for the Moose. Using his speed to generate chances.
— Dave Minuk (@ICdave) February 23, 2017
While being with the Moose, Connor has had more time to handle the puck and create offence in a slower paced league. Connor, who possesses NHL-level speed, was all over the ice against Rockford and produced five legitimate scoring chances while forechecking relentlessly throughout the game.
Being able to do the little things right is what sets an AHL player and an NHL player apart.
While playing with the Jets, Connor displayed his NHL-level shot and speed, but also showed that other facets of his game were a work in progress. During his tenure with the Moose, he’s worked on those other areas of his game and it’s starting to pay off.
Having the ability to be the best player on the ice without scoring a point is a huge accomplishment for a 20-year-old first-year pro. Improving his game as a whole seems to be Connor’s number one priority with the Moose;
And he’s on the right track to do that.