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Photo Credit: © Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Pilots Logbook 2018-19: Kyle Connor

It was a strong sophomore season for the speedy winger who increased his stats in nearly every aspect of the game. After two strong years in the NHL, Connor is up for a new contract this summer and nobody is quite sure what to expect. With a high pedigree and solid numbers, it’s going to be interesting to see how the contract negotiations go, especially with the Jets being close to the salary cap.

Kyle Connor
81 – Left Wing
6’1″ / 182 lbs / Age: 22

The Numbers

KYLE CONNOR’S 2018-19 REGULAR SEASON STATS
Season GP G A PTS +/- PIM S S% TSA ATOI BLK HIT TK GV
2018-19 82 34 32 66 -7 18 227 15.0 355 19:15 21 9 56 33
Career 178 67 61 128 -6 38 443 15.1 684 17:28 55 28 106 72
KYLE CONNOR’S 2018-19 REGULAR SEASON ADVANCED STATS (5V5)
Cors Cors Cors Cors Fenw Fenw Fenw Fenw PDO PDO PDO PDO PDO Zone Zone
Season GP TOI CF CA CF% CF% rel FF FA FF% FF% rel oiGF oiSH% oiGA oiSV% PDO oZS% dZS%
2018-19 82 1236.8 1209 1260 49.0 0.3 923 974 48.7 0.1 72 10.6 75 89.7 100.3 60.7 39.3
Career 178 2534.9 2422 2529 48.9 -1.2 1860 1910 49.3 -0.8 136 9.9 132 90.6 100.5 57.4 42.6

Contract Status

Having finished his entry level contract, Connor is now an RFA this summer. It’s unprecedented territory for Winnipeg as both Laine and Connor are looking for massive raises after their excellent starts to their careers. Connor is coming off a 34 goal season and will probably try to sign a long term deal. However, some reports have Connor nearing the $7-8 million mark which is a hefty price to pay for a pure goal scorer that hasn’t shown many other sides to his game. Their might be a gap between Connor’s camp and Cheveldayoff but they will hopefully be able to come up with a solution and get a deal done fairly soon.

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Player’s Season in Review

Connor had excellent numbers this season with 34 goals and 66 points in only his second full season in the NHL. Those are impressive numbers for sure, but Connor has had some help along the way.

Connor had the benefit of playing alongside Scheifele and Wheeler all season long which certainly gave him a large boost statistically. It’s hard to imagine Connor scoring more than 30 goals had he played with Little and Ehlers for the whole season. However, Connor does deserve some credit because he still made the most of his opportunity.

Connor’s style of play fits perfectly with Scheifele and Wheeler because of his smooth skating and natural scoring ability. Scheifele can win puck battles, Wheeler can pass better than anyone, and Connor has the innate ability to find the back of the net. It’s a trio that managed to score a ton of points even though they tended to get out-shot while on the ice.

Although Connor’s boxscore stats look strong, the line as a whole struggled with the advanced stats department. Connor had an xGoals% of 46.6% which was near the bottom of the roster. His scoring chances for % of 47.04% also put him near the bottom of the team. These paltry numbers likely have more to do with the line as a whole rather than Connor individually as the entire line struggled for much of the year despite scoring lots of points.

 

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As far as Connor’s effect on his teammates, there isn’t much to say. For the most part, players aren’t much better or worse with Connor as a linemate. The eyetest would make it seem that Connor is a passenger on his line as he relies on his teammates to do most of the work while he puts the finishing touch on the play. While the ability to score goals is always important, it should be noted that Connor hasn’t shown much ability to drive a line by himself.

While nobody expects Connor to be driving possession every shift, it does limit his effectiveness if he only performs well with certain players. It would be interesting to watch him play with some other players for a stretch of games to see how he performs without premier linemates.

One interesting part of Connor’s season was his usage on the penalty kill. In his rookie year, Connor didn’t play any penalty kill minutes but this year he managed 41 seconds per game. Connor’s quickness is an asset on the PK because he’s able to beat players to pucks and win races down the ice. Even though he isn’t known as a defensive player, getting some time on the penalty kill is a good way to develop defensive habits and positioning.

The important thing to realize is that Connor is still young and will continue to grow his game for the next few years. Hopefully he can round out his defensive game to go along with his great skating and stickhandling ability to become a true first line winger.

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The Playoffs

KYLE CONNOR’S 2019 PLAYOFF STATS
Season GP G A PTS +/- PIM S S% TSA ATOI BLK HIT TK GV
2018-19 6 3 2 5 -1 0 14 21.4 25 21:23 1 3 2 0
Career 23 6 9 15 1 2 50 12.0 90 18:41 8 10 11 9
KYLE CONNOR’S 2019 PLAYOFF ADVANCED STATS (ALL SITUATIONS)
Cors Cors Cors Cors Fenw Fenw Fenw Fenw PDO PDO PDO PDO PDO Zone Zone
Season GP TOI CF CA CF% CF% rel FF FA FF% FF% rel oiGF oiSH% oiGA oiSV% PDO oZS% dZS%
2018-19 6 128.3 121 114 51.5 3.0 87 92 48.6 -0.8 6 10.9 6 90.9 101.8 67.3 32.7
Career 23 429.9 451 382 54.1 3.6 322 287 52.9 1.3 20 9.5 16 92.2 101.7 63.2 36.8

Connor built upon a strong season and had an even better playoff run. He tied for the team lead in goals (3) with Laine, one of which was a massive game winner in overtime during game four. He finished second on the team in points with five and appeared to be dangerous almost every game.

What We Said A Year Ago

“One area that could be improved upon is his decision making. Sometimes Connor carries the puck too long while trying to make a difficult play. This can result in bad turnovers that could easily be avoided. When a player is accustomed to scoring often in junior, they can sometimes feel the need to create a chance every shift. The reality in the NHL is that players do not create a chance every time they touch the ice. This realization could help Connor make simple plays instead of trying to create chances in tough situations.”

Future Outlook

The future is in Connor’s hands right now. On the verge of a new contract, Connor is heading into next year as one of the most promising players on the team. He’s got the natural gift of goal scoring and has showcased it at every level. If he can round out the rest of his game and begin to drive the play a bit more, he is going to become a really strong forward for years to come.

FINAL GRADE: A