Name: Kyle Connor
Team: Youngstown (USHL)
2014-15 Stats: 34-46--80, 56 games played
Measurables: 6'1", 180 lbs
CSS Rankings: Midterm: 14, Final: 13
I've seen Kyle Connor play close to a dozen times over the past three years and he has been everything as advertised and more.
Connor has it all; elite stick skills, high end speed and no shortage of offensive creativity. He's a defenseman's worst nightmare 1-on-1, utilizing an elusive extra gear and a flawless stride to carve through the neutral zone.
In-zone, Connor is just as lethal as he is in transition. He is the kind of player who can maneuver in tight spaces and always finds himself in a scoring position.
What has impressed me the most, however, is that every time I see him play, a part of his game gets better.
Two years ago, Kyle Connor was a dynamic scorer; this year he played at center and wing and used his speed to become vicious on the forecheck. He made huge leaps on his two-way game, leading the Phantoms to even use him as a penalty killer, recording three shorthanded goals.
All of these improvements came without hindering his scoring, and he led the USHL with eighty points. He was named the USHL's "Player of the Year," "Forward of the Year," and "Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year."
Coming into Michigan, he will have a freshman campaign that will not only rival that of Dylan Larkin's and Max Pacioretty's, but possibly even supersede them.
NHL Draft Projection
In any other year Connor would be a sure Top-10 draft pick. He could slip into that range if a few other prospects drop, but if not, he isn't on the board past the 16th pick. Teams drafting in that 10-15 range as of now are the Avalanche, Florida, Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston and the Calgary Flames, all of whom have the opportunity to add more elite talent to the depth charts.
In the 2015 SB Nation Mock NHL Draft, Defending Big D (Dallas Stars) selected Connor with the 12th overall pick.