A playmaking power-forward with exceptional hands is what makes Connor Kurth a likable prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft. The future Minnesota Gopher is instant offense when in the offensive zone as he’s difficult to defend against. For a big guy, 5’11/214-pounds, he can really and dangle, especially in tight quarters. Kurth does a good job using his frame for puck protection and ups his game when being harassed in the tough areas on the ice.
Scoring has come in bunches for Kurth as the 18-year-old completed his career in Dubuque with 50 goals and 72 assists for 122 points in 114 games. He notched 81 points (35 goals and 46 assists) in 62 games this past season. Kurth was rewarded for his exceptional play as he was named the 2022 Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year winner, given to the most outstanding American-born player in junior hockey. Kurth is in good company as former number 1 pick Jack Hughes, Kyle Connor, Tucker Poolman, Blake Coleman, and Joe Pavelski are just a couple of the players that have won the award.
Going undrafted in the 2021 NHL Draft seemed to motivate Kurth this season as he appeared to have an extra gear with his mobility and stickwork. Kurth was also one of the younger players (July 30, 2003) available for the 2021 NHL Draft and will still be 18 years old when the 2022 draft is held in early July.
The biggest concern to some is Kurth’s skating as they fear he will not keep up with the pace of play. While his skating is not prototypical, it is not the major liability that he’s been labeled with by evaluators. Kurth’s skates pronate a bit, making his style a little unorthodox. The pronation of the skate makes it more difficult to generate power during a stride and effects balance with some skaters. Kurth is not a fast skater north to south but keeps up with the play, he also has good balance and good use of his edges. Kurth also possesses good mobility and can move east/ west very well.
I like to compare Kurth to former NHL’er Andrew Brunette. While their styles aren’t completely the same Kurth is traveling a similar road as Brunette. Both were high scoring junior players that were pushed aside because of speed concerns while their playmaking and finishing was overlooked. Brunette proved them wrong and now it’s time for Kurth to do the same. Kurth will be a nice skilled player that can earn a franchise major draft profit later in the draft.
Key Attributes: Stickhandling, Hands, Puck Protection, Slot Play, Physical Play, Work Ethic, Scoring Drive, Shot, Vision, Board and Corner Play, Passing, Decision Making, Positioning