Kick start your week with the Monday Manitoba Moose Report, which fills you in on the latest news about the Jets AHL farm club.
Back on October 9th, at the Ricoh Colliseum in Toronto, the Moose started their AHL season with Connor Hellebuyck in goal, and a group of 18 skaters – a mix of savvy veterans and youthful exuberance. Fast forward to Friday night’s match-up with Lake Erie, and if you look closely, you’ll see that exactly half the skaters were gone from the opening day lineup. And yet, with Lipon, Kosmachuk, Halischuk, and Petan up with the Jets, Fraser and Harrison traded, and Morrissey, Kostalek, and Raffl hurt, the Moose still managed to pull out a 4-0 victory in Lake Erie on the back of Connor Hellebuyck’s 36-save shutout. They also got more offensive contributions from ECHL call-up, Dan DeSalvo, who scored his 2nd goal (and 4th point) in just 5 games since being called up. Jets’ forward prospect Jimmy Lodge also helped the effort, adding two assists – the first points of his AHL career.
Saturday’s game didn’t go as well – a 5-0 loss. Eric Comrie got shelled, as the Moose were outshot 40-19. While the result was disappointing, you couldn’t say that it was surprising given the state of the lineup, and the fact that Lake Eric had won 5 of the previous 7 match-ups.
On the Jets’ front, Scott Kosmachuk picked up another point on Sunday, bringing his Jets totals to 3 assists in 7 games. He also had two good chances to score his first NHL goal on Friday against Chicago, but was thwarted each time by Scott Darling. Chase De Leo played in his first NHL game Sunday against Anaheim, and nearly had his first point, until the scorekeepers changed the assist on the Postma goal to Kosmachuk. Meanwhile, J.C Lipon was held pointless on Monday and Wednesday, and missed the last two games due to injury. Defenceman Julian Melchiori also got into a game last Monday against Vancouver, and acquitted himself well in over 16 minutes of play.
The Moose play three games at home this week – Monday and Wednesday against Stockton (AHL Calgary), and Saturday against Charlotte (Carolina).
Kyle Connor Dazzles, Again
By now, you’ve probably heard about Kyle Connor. (If not, click here, here, and here). He opened the weekend by scoring 4 goals on Friday night, in a 7-2 win over Penn State. Then he added 4 points on Saturday, including this goal which tied the game at 3, en route to a 5-3 victory over Minnesota in the Big-10 championship game.
With his 8 points this weekend, it’s official – Connor has obliterated the NCAA, with 35 goals and 34 assists in just 36 games, including a 25-game point streak. (The last time Connor didn’t record a point was November 28th!) Teammates aside, the next-highest scorer in the NCAA is 14 points behind him. And he is doing all this as a college freshman. The last time someone dominated the college scene in their freshman year was Paul Kariya – in 1993.
I’m sure Connor would love nothing more than to close out the season with a run to the Frozen Four, and a national championship. But the question on everyone’s mind is, is Kyle Connor ready to turn pro? Below is a list of ten players who made a succesfull transition to the NHL within a year of leaving the NCAA. While direct comparisons can be dangerous, as a group, you’ll notice that none of them scored as much as Connor has this season:
Jack Eichel – 2015-2016
NCAA – 71 points in 40 games (Age 18)
NHL – 22 goals and 27 assists through 72 games (Age 19)
Dylan Larkin – 2015-2016
NCAA – 47 points in 35 games (Age 18)
NHL – 21 goals, 22 assists through 70 games (Age 19)
Jonathan Toews – 2007-2008
NCAA – 46 points in 34 games (Age 18)
NHL – 24 goals, 30 assists in 64 games (Age 19)
Dany Heatley – 2001-2002
NCAA – 57 points in 39 games (Age 19)
NHL – 26 goals, 41 assists in 82 games (Age 20)
Derek Stepan – 2010-2011
NCAA – 54 points in 41 games (Age 19)
NHL – 21 goals, 24 assists in 82 games (Age 20)
T.J Oshie – 2007-2008
NCAA – 45 points in 42 games (Age 20)
NHL – 14 goals, 25 assists in 57 games (Age 21)
Blake Wheeler – 2008-2009
NCAA – 35 points in 44 games (Age 21)
NHL – 21 goals, 24 assists in 81 games (Age 22)
James Van Riesmdyk – 2009-2010
NCAA – 40 points in 36 games (Age 19)
NHL – 15 goals, 20 assists in 78 games (Age 20)
Phil Kessel – 2006-2007
NCAA – 51 points in 39 games (Age 18)
NHL – 11 goals, 18 assists in 70 games (Age 19)
Jaden Schwartz – 2012-2013
NCAA – 41 points in 30 games (Age 19)
NHL – 13 games in 45 games (Age 20); 56 points in 80 games in his second NHL season.
Regardless of whether Connor is ready to contribute at the NHL level right away, his statistics are so baffling that it would seem that he has nothing left to prove in the NCAA. And it’s also worth pointing out that Connor is eligible to play in the AHL immediately, as players coming from the NCAA (or any other league aside from the CHL), can play in the AHL as teenagers.