Kyle Connor is enjoying his ride-along with veteran centre Bryan Little since the Winnipeg Jets players were paired on the team’s second forward line about a month ago.

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This article was published 13/12/2018 (1084 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Kyle Connor is enjoying his ride-along with veteran centre Bryan Little since the Winnipeg Jets players were paired on the team’s second forward line about a month ago.

Connor scored a pair of goals Tuesday in a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks and had 13 goals and 15 assists in 31 games following Thursday’s big test against the rejuvenated Edmonton Oilers. Although Connor had just one goal in the 10 games prior to his stellar effort against Chicago, he still put up some points, including a four-assist night on linemate Patrik Laine’s five-goal explosion against the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 24.

Speaking Thursday morning, Connor said he’s receiving valuable on-the-job training from Little, who’s playing in his 12th season with the Winnipeg/Atlanta organization.

"He’s such a calming presence. He’s been through a lot and seen a lot of different situations. It’s good to have that communication on the bench, whether it’s with him or (Laine)," Connor said. "Playing that centre position can be tough. Sometimes you play against the other team’s best and you have to be heavy down low in the defensive zone. He’s probably one of our most consistent players, never takes a shift off... that’s what makes good players great in this league."

The 22-year-old from Michigan, in the final year of his entry-level deal, continues to demonstrate that despite trading places with Nikolaj Ehlers on the No. 1 line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. He can be a game-breaker anywhere he slots in.

"I think he’s a great hockey player. We’re pretty spoiled with the guys we have, especially in that top six. Sometimes the parts can be interchangeable, but I think he’s had good chemistry with Bryan and with Patty," Wheeler said. "They’ve had some offensive nights, it’s great to have some of that spread out through your lineup."

Has Connor, with parts of just three NHL seasons on his resumé, assumed the spark-plug function on that trio?

"Bryan’s the driver of that line. He has been for a number of years and there aren’t many guys out there that work shift in, shift out like Bryan Little," Wheeler said.


Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was absent from the morning skate, but was good to go against Connor McDavid and the offensively gifted Oilers.

Jets head coach Paul Maurice generated some laughs from the press corps when he was asked if big No. 33 simply elected not to participate.

"No, it was not an option. I made him stay off," Maurice said.

Forward Andrew Copp (concussion symptoms) skated on his own Thursday morning, but remains on the injured-reserve list and missed his fifth straight game and eighth of the Jets’ past 10 games.

Defenceman Joe Morrow (lower body) participated in regular drills with his teammates but didn’t dress against Edmonton, his eighth game on the shelf.

Blue-liner Sami Niku and forward Nic Petan were healthy scratches.

jason.bell@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Assistant sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).