Kyle Connor signs with NHL’s Winnipeg Jets

Monday, April 11, 2016 - 2:14pm

Last week, junior forward Tyler Motte became the third player to leave the Michigan hockey team early to sign a professional contract.

Monday, freshman forward Kyle Connor made it four.

After only one season with the Wolverines, Connor signed a three-year contract with the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets, Michigan announced via a release Monday. The Jets drafted Connor this past summer with their first round pick (17th overall).

The freshman phenom racked up 71 points (35 goals, 36 assists) on the season, good for first in the NCAA, and was a mainstay on Michigan’s first line — dubbed the “CCM” line.

Connor’s prolific season also made him a Hobey Baker Award finalist, but he came up just short, losing out to Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey.

Connor came to Michigan from the United States Hockey League’s Youngstown Phantoms, where he was named the 2015 USHL Player of the Year.

But early on, Connor couldn’t parlay his success from the USHL into the NCAA ranks. It wasn’t until he was moved into the first line with Motte and junior forward JT Compher that Connor started to shine.

His stellar season peaked in the Big Ten Tournament, where Connor tallied eight points (five goals, three assists) in two games.

Known for his quick shot and speed, Connor will take his talents to a Winnipeg team that is in desperate need for offense. The Jets finished the NHL season tied for 24th in goals scored with just 78 goals in 82 games.

With Connor now gone to the professional ranks, all eyes in Ann Arbor shift to Connor’s line mate, Compher, who is also deciding whether or not to leave Michigan early for the NHL.