Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his annual rankings of the top 30 draft-eligible prospects. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27.
|(Photo Courtesy of the USHL) |#13 - KYLE CONNOR
Left Wing, Youngstown (USHL)
6’1.25”, 173 lbs.
Committed to the University of Michigan, Connor was an energetic machine with Youngstown, racking up 34 goals – including nine game-winners – and a league-best 80 points to lead the Phantoms to the USHL Eastern Conference regular-season title.
The output earned Connor USHL Player of the Year and Forward of the Year awards and while his numbers indicate a tremendous amount of offensive upside, the Belle Tire product has worked hard to round out his game and take on the look of a productive top-six forward with a pesky two-way style.
Connor’s crafty offensive game is all about speed, reads and instincts. He’s an agile skater with an ability to quickly cut through traffic while controlling the puck. He can anticipate and execute within a structured system, demonstrating great patience and creativity.
Connor, whose excellent vision often finds him setting up his linemates, also packs a developing array of shooting skills that he’ll need to continue building during his time in the Big Ten.
The elevated pace that makes him a steady offensive threat is equally applied on the forecheck. He’s not overly physical, but Connor closes in quickly and takes away time and space from the puck handler in hopes of getting them to push the panic button.
A virtual shoo-in for Team USA at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, Connor got an early taste of the expectations at the 2014 National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid.
An NHL organization that can afford to wait and year or two should have their patience pay off, as Connor has the natural tools and drive to become a complete player with a couple more years of on-ice reps and work in the weight room.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects) for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.