Winnipeg Jets take Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic in 1st round of NHL Draft

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SUNRISE, Fla. – He grew up playing hockey on a backyard rink in Michigan and idolizing Pavel Datsyuk. And now Kyle Connor is the latest edition to the Winnipeg Jets impressive cache of prospects.

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This article was published 25/06/2015 (2715 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

SUNRISE, Fla. – He grew up playing hockey on a backyard rink in Michigan and idolizing Pavel Datsyuk. And now Kyle Connor is the latest edition to the Winnipeg Jets impressive cache of prospects.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Connor. “I’m sharing this with my family and friends who supported me throughout my whole career. It’s exciting.”

Ranked as high as six on some mock drafts, Connor – a 6-1, 183-pound left winger from Shelby Township, Mich. who played this past winter with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL – fell to the Jets with their first pick in Friday night’s first round, 17th overall, after both the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars went a bit off the board with their selections ahead of Winnipeg.

ALAN DIAZ / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Kyle Connor, center, puts on a Winnipeg Jets sweater after being chosen 17th overall during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday in Sunrise, Fla.

Connor said the Jets had spoken to him three or four times during the regular season and again at the NHL Combine earlier this month in Buffalo. But, maybe with the expectation he wouldn’t be there when they picked, he was not interviewed a second time by the Jets this week.

“I had really good talks with them, talks throughout the whole season,” said Connor, who is committed to the University of Michigan next season. “On draft day you never really know what’s going to happen. I’m excited to be a part of the Jets.”

Connor’s stock was believed to be rising and in the days leading up to the first round, was getting rave reviews from those who watched him play. Said USA Hockey’s Jim Johannson, who oversees the national teams, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press on Thursday: “I think he will end up as one of the best players in this draft. His offensive instincts are fantastic as both a scorer and a playmaker. He will make plays that a guy won’t be ready for. If the guy is ready, it’s a tap-in goal.”

The Phantoms are owned by former NHLer Troy Loney, who also raved about Connor in the Detroit Free Press.

“He has the speed, the vision and he’s a good passer,” he said. “He’s not selfish with the puck, but he’s not afraid to shoot it.

“He’s almost like a guy I played with, Marty Straka, who had that kind of waterbug action going. He could be all over the place. (Connor) has that, too, but, and this is not a knock on Marty, but Kyle has better hands.”

Connor was ranked 13th by the International Scouting Services and 11th by The Hockey News in their annual draft guide after a spectacular season in Youngstown. He was the USHL Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and an All-USHL First-Team All-Star after leading the league in scoring with 80 points (34g, 46A) in 56 games. He was also All-USHL in 2013-14, finishing second in league scoring.

Connor said he hoped to work on his strength at Michigan and continue to hone his overall skills. He has met current Jet Andrew Copp, another Wolverine, but does not know Jacob Trouba, who also played for Red Berenson in Ann Arbor.

Asked what he knew about Winnipeg, Connor smiled and said.

“I know its cold up there, but they’ve got passionate fans and it’s a real passionate hockey market. Great team, they showed really well in the playoffs last year and are definitely on the up rise.”

The Jets used their second pick in the first round (25th overall), acquired from the Buffalo Sabres in their blockbuster trade this winter, to select Jack Roslovic from the U.S. Under 18 program.

Roslovic was ranked fourth on the team with 79 points (25-52—79 this season. The Columbus, Ohio native is 6-feet, 182-pounds and a right-hand shot centre.

 

Gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

History

Updated on Friday, June 26, 2015 9:01 PM CDT: Updated headline and story.

Updated on Friday, June 26, 2015 9:16 PM CDT: Updated story with quotes.

Updated on Friday, June 26, 2015 11:06 PM CDT: Added video.

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