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Connor, Roslovic looking to make impression at development camp

2015 first-round picks gained NHL experience last season

by Mitchell Clinton @MClinton007 / WinnipegJets.com

As first round draft picks in 2015, Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic are taking part in their third Winnipeg Jets Development Camp this week.

But that doesn't mean they're not trying to make an impression, especially with Jets head coach Paul Maurice and his staff running practices.

"It's a good way to put your name down, another footprint, and any chance you get to put your foot down and get a footprint even more, it's nice," said Roslovic. "They're familiar with us and our game, but once again, every opportunity you get is an opportunity to shine (brighter) in their eyes."

The 20-year-old Roslovic accumulated 13 goals and 48 points with the Manitoba Moose last season, and got his first taste of NHL action in his hometown of Columbus on Apr. 6.

Video: DEV CAMP | Kyle Connor

Connor started the season with the Jets and notched his first NHL goal in a 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Oct. 27. He was re-assigned to the Moose after 19 games, and scored 25 goals and 44 points in 52 games at that level.

That performance earned him a recall for the game of the regular season against Nashville. The 20-year-old left-winger scored to tie the game in the third period, a game the Jets eventually won 2-1.

"That was really good. I was working really hard down wit the Moose and trying to implement a lot of stuff into my game," said Connor. "Just being harder on the puck, getting after it, and staying on the puck more. To come and see that translate into the last game of the year, that was good to see."

The two players pushed each other to the point that they finished in the top two spots in Moose scoring. Roslovic believes that push helped both players continue to improve, and ultimately earn the recall they coveted.

"When he came down, he did a great job for me, helping push the pace. I kind of looked up to him, and he looked up to me," Roslovic said. "We took bits and pieces of each other's games and tried to make each other stronger, because hopefully we'll be together for many years."

Video: DEV CAMP | Jack Roslovic

Player Development Coordinator Jimmy Roy says having Connor and Roslovic on the ice for camp this week at Bell MTS Iceplex is a huge benefit to the organization, and to the players who are skating here for the first time.

"Not only from a leadership role, but from other players, drafted players and seeing those players, and being able to compare themselves. 'This guy played in the American League, this guy played 20 games in the NHL,' there is a big value to having those guys around," said Roy. "So maybe it's not necessarily leadership in vocal or taking guys under their wing, it's just their presence has some leadership to it."

HOMETOWN BOY

Altona, MB native Cole Kehler is one of three goaltenders to get an invitation to this week's Development Camp.

After a stellar season with the WHL's Portland Winterhawks where he compiled a 32-17-3 record and a 0.910 save percentage, the 19-year-old is excited to be on the ice with the organization he's watched since he was 13.

"My family got season tickets, and I got to see the team play. I went to the playoff games a couple years ago against the Ducks," said Kehler. "It's just really special for them to notice me and recognize that I had a good season and invite me here."

Kehler does see some familiar faces this week. He went to Moose goaltending coach Rick St. Croix's goaltending camps every year between the ages of eight and 13, and also was a teammate of 2017 seventh round pick Skyler McKenzie in Portland.

"Skyler is relentless on the puck. He can definitely finish," Kehler said of McKenzie's 42-goal season with the Winterhawks. "He's a fast, skilled forward. He might be small, but he's got a big heart, but he's got a lot of grit to his game. He's a very good hockey player."

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