Tuesday night, Winnipeg Jets’ rookie Kyle Connor’s heroics were overshadowed once again by the sophomore sensation, Patrik Laine.
Connor provided the only two goals the Jets would score in a 2-1 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings. However, as soon as the game ended, everyone’s focus turned to Laine who left the game early with an injury.
That seems to be the status quo for Connor.
It is hard to not be overshadowed by the goal-scoring Finn. Laine is in an intense scoring race with Alexander Ovechkin, and, naturally, anybody who has a beard like that is bound to garner some attention. Connor, however, is also in a scoring race that is receiving very little attention.
At the moment, the Jets rookie sits only two goals behind the injured Brock Boeser for first among all rookies. His total of 27 goals has a very good chance to surpass Boeser and creep into the 30’s by the time the season ends. His goal accumulation doesn’t just stack up well against rookies, but is also impressive on a league-wide basis.
Connor is currently tied with Steven Stamkos, Jaime Benn, and Vladimir Tarasenko with 27 goals while playing fewer games than all three of them. The rookie forward will also most likely finish with more goals than Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, and Joe Pavelski. Not bad for his first year in the league.
The Michigan-native has been a goal-scorer at every level in his hockey career. In the USHL, Connor had two 30 plus goal seasons with the Youngstown Phantoms. At the NCAA level playing in the Big Ten with the University of Michigan, the local product netted 30 goals again. In the AHL Connor potted 25 goals in 52 games, proving that the young forward has a true knack for the net.
It is absurd to think that a first-round draft pick like Kyle Connor can be overlooked, especially when he has performed the way he has. If Connor is able to score three goals in the Jets final nine games, he will join Auston Matthews, Artemi Panarin, and of course, Patrik Laine as just the fourth rookie to reach 30 goals in the past seven years. None of those players was ignored during their rookie campaign, and Kyle Connor should be no exception.