Kyle Connor Headlines Jets Development Camp

Kyle Connor is going to attend what is almost certainly his last Winnipeg Jets development camp next week, and thanks to a last-minute subtraction from the roster he’ll be the most intriguing prospect there.

Patrik Laine was ruled out of on-ice activities at development camp following post-draft minor surgery, so Connor takes over as the prospect Jets fans will most be talking about when the camp begins.

Connor has been something of a forgotten man among Jets prospects in recent months. He started off well for the United States at the World Championships, posting a pair of power play assists in his first two games before being driven heavily into the boards and suffering an injury which forced him to miss most of the rest of the tournament. With all the hype surrounding Laine in recent months, Connor’s incredible season has kind of fallen to the back of Jets fans’ minds.

Now, with Laine on the shelf, he’ll have a chance to make another impression on the legions of Jets fans who unfailingly attend development camp every year (since it’s free and open to the public). He’s not the only one looking to make an impression, however, as many other prospects will be in attendance.

Schedule and Roster

So this is the roster for this year’s development camp, and while it lacks some of the excitement of last year’s, which featured Connor and Jack Roslovic along with Nic Petan, Nikolaj Ehlers, Connor Hellebuyck and Josh Morrissey, it still features a lengthy list of players Jets fans will be eager to see in person.

With the complete schedule now posted on the Jets website, fans can begin to plan their trips out to the Iceplex to watch future Jets in action. A few names, besides those of Connor and Roslovic, jump off the page.

2015 mid-rounders Erik Foley and Michael Spacek were impressive at last year’s camp, with Foley scoring a terrific between the legs goal and Spacek showing off his one-timer, so it’ll be nice to see them back, and it will be interesting to see how much a year has helped their development. While Jets fans may have seen some of Spacek in Red Deer, Erik Foley’s games with Providence College may have been harder to find on TV.

Also on the roster are defensemen Logan Stanley and Jack Glover, who did not participate in last year’s development camp. Glover, a third round pick in 2014, is something of an unknown to Jets fans. He had a rough first NCAA season with Minnesota, then posted somewhat better numbers this year. Injuries have hindered his development somewhat, and there were reports he might not be able to participate in development camp this year either.

Yet the Jets thought to include him on the roster, so who knows? It would be nice to get a firsthand look at Glover, who comes with the reputation of being a smooth puck mover with a decent frame.

Speaking of decent frames, much debated 2016 first rounder Logan Stanley will be in attendance. It will be the first live look at him for many Jets fans, and while nobody is awarding prizes or basing predictions off a development camp, Stanley could quiet a few doubters if he skated well this week. The agility drills he participates in will be closely watched.

Brendan Lemieux returns to once again make observers say, “Man, who knew he could shoot like that?” Last year, every time I watched Lemieux, his shot impressed me. It’s a heavy yet accurate shot that goalies always seem to have trouble with, and it’s that shot most of all that makes me think he can be more than a pest at the NHL level.

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Tucker Poolman, who is entering his final season at UND and who, some speculated, might have a chance to turn pro this season, will also attend. He was a man amongst boys at times last year, and I don’t expect another year of experience and growth to have dampened that. He could be a diamond in the rough who helps solidify the Jets defense core down the line.

Perhaps it’s my imagination but this development camp seems less loaded than last year’s talented iteration. The goalies all appear to be invitees (a major step down from the Hellebuyck-Comrie tandem of last year), and aside from Connor none of these players is likely to start next season in the NHL. It’s not an indictment of the Jets prospect system, however, but rather a sign of how many of their top prospects have graduated to the professional ranks. You’ll be able to add Connor to that list by this time next year, as he’s poised to turn pro this fall, likely with the Jets.

I’ll try to keep Jets fans updated on the goings on at development camp both here and on Twitter in the coming days. It’s an exciting, optimism-filled time of year, and Jets fans should enjoy it.