Winnipeg Jets 2021-22 Report Cards: Kyle Connor

The Winnipeg Jets’ 2021-22 season was a disappointment, as they came into the season considered a Stanley Cup contender but drastically underperformed, finishing sixth in the Central Division and well out of the playoff picture.

In this series, we’ll take a look back on the season, player by player, and grade their individual performances with an eye toward their future with the team.

Kyle Connor put the NHL on notice with a superb and historic season.

Connor Set Personal Bests, Broke Jets Records

The 25-year-old superstar left-winger lead the Jets in goals, assists, and points in 2022-23. He lit the lamp 47 times and added 46 assists for 93 points in 79 games, career-highs for him across the board.

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Connor’s 47 goals was a new record for most in a single season in the Jets’ 2.0 era, breaking Patrik Laine’s record of 44. His 93 points set a new record for most points in a single season in the Jets’ 2.0 era, breaking Blake Wheeler’s record of 92. He also became the first 40/40 man in the Jets’ 2.0 era and is the 40/40 man for the Atlanta Thrashers/Jets franchise since 2008-09.

Overall, his 47 goals was tied for fifth in league scoring with the Minnesota Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov and his 93 points landed him 13th, league wide.

He did all that while taking only two penalties all season despite having the highest ATOI of any Jets’ forward with 21:47. As a result, he received a nomination for the Lady Byng Trophy on May 18 and should be a shoo-in to win the award over Jaccob Slavin and Jared Spurgeon.

Connor A Picture of Consistency

While the Jets were terribly inconsistent and performed well below expectations, Connor operated at a high level nearly every game.

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Connor used his scorching shot to score “goal scorer’s goals” with great consistency. He always looked poised to pop off, scoring at least one goal in 42 of his 79 games and recording a point in 56 of 79. He flirted with a 50-goal pace until early April and never went more than three games without recording a point.

Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets
Kyle Connor led the Jets in goals with 47 and points with 93. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He found great chemistry with centre Pierre-Luc Dubois, a pending RFA who will be priority number-one for Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to re-sign this offseason.

Related: Winnipeg Jets’ 2021-22 Report Cards: Pierre-Luc Dubois

Dubois’ play-driving tendencies, playmaking skills, and sheer determination with the puck opened up a lot of opportunities for Connor in dangerous locations.

Connor is Set for Sustained Success

Indeed, 2021-22 was a “coming out party” for Connor, who can no longer be ignored by the league as a whole. He is undoubtedly one of the NHL’s elite players, and still has room to improve. Multiple 50-goal seasons are in his future.

With the Jets having a number of problematic players to deal with now and in the future — such as the declining captain Blake Wheeler and the disgruntled Mark Scheifele — players who go quietly about their business like Connor are extremely valuable. He is not a huge personality on the ice, nor does he wear a letter, but he can lead by example and set standards with his play that other players should strive to live up to.

“He’s quiet, kind of introverted, keeps to himself, but when you dig deeper and pull the layers back, you realize how much he loves the game,” Paul Stastny told the Winnipeg Free Press in January. “He puts a lot of pressure on himself, and he expects himself to score every night and he expects himself to be one of the best players out there.”

Kyle Connor Winnipeg Jets
Kyle Connor is a quiet player, but puts a lot of pressure on himself to succeed, Paul Stastny said. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“He’s just a very dynamic player, wants the puck all the time, very hard to knock off the puck…” Stastny continued. “Just someone who constantly wants to get better.” (From ‘Connor the quiet superstar, Winnipeg Free Press, Jan. 13, 2022.)

Connor still has four more seasons on his seven-year deal; his AAV of $7.142 million is reasonable for everything he brings to the ice. There’s little reason to expect anything less from Connor in 2022-23 than for him to chase 50 goals and 100 points again.

Overall Grade: A+

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