Connor looking ahead after cut

Author: Mike McIntyre, Winnipeg Free Press
Date: Oct 5, 2017

There was no sulking. No pouting. And no complaining. Instead, Kyle Connor seems to have taken his assignment to the Manitoba Moose in stride while vowing to do everything possible to get back to the big club as quickly as possible.

"Anybody who’s not frustrated… I wouldn’t tell you otherwise," Connor, 20, said Wednesday following his first American Hockey League practice after being sent down by the Winnipeg Jets one day earlier. "But it’s just the hand you’ve been dealt. You’ve got to make the most of it. For me, it’s just improve my game and get that much better."

The 2015 first-round pick made the Jets out of camp last year, but only dressed for 19 games — putting up a goal and three assists in limited playing time — before he was dispatched to the farm. After a bit of a slow start with the Moose, Connor took off. He scored a team-high 25 goals and added 19 assists in 52 games in antlers.

Connor was recalled for one more NHL game at the end of last season and scored a goal. He was hoping to build off that this season, but was held pointless in six pre-season games. He found himself on the outside looking in as Jets head coach Paul Maurice finalized his 23-man roster.

"He’s very positive. He’s taking it like a man," Moose head coach Pascal Vincent said Wednesday. "He knows what he has to work on. There’s one good thing that he does extremely well and that’s self-evaluation. He’s not down, he’s not negative, he’s not taking it as a demotion.

"He wants to show that he belongs to the NHL."

Connor said the Jets brass gave him some ideas on what he needs to get to the next level and stay there.

"Staying on the puck, winning more battles is kind of a big thing," he said. "Just keep playing my game, keep working hard and do all the little things right."

Although an AHL encore wasn’t his first choice, Connor said his confidence at this level should allow him to hit the ground running.

He’s excited to reunite with fellow first-round pick and good friend Jack Roslovic on what is expected to be the top line for the Moose when they open the season Friday night in Michigan against the defending league champion Grand Rapids Griffins.

"I think we mesh together. It’ll be fun to see what we can do," Connor said. "I’m just going to come out here and have a good start to the season and see how it goes. I don’t put any numbers on it. Just go out there and play my game and I think the results will come."

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