Vancouver Canucks Prospects Coverage: Defenseman Kevin Connauton

Joseph Trenton@@TrentonNHLCFLAnalyst IIIMay 4, 2012

EDMONTON, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 26: Kevin Connauton #61 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Edmonton Oilers on September 26, 2010 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

Kevin Connauton was the Vancouver Canucks' third-round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This year is Connauton's second professional season under the Canucks organization.

The 21-year-old Connauton was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. He was listed at 6'1'' and 185 lbs in the summer of 2011.

The Canucks initially drafted Kevin Connauton for some obvious reasons. This young man is gifted offensively, and he has a rocket of a shot.

How can we attest to that? Well, in late January, when the American Hockey League All-Star Game held the Skills Competition, Kevin Connauton was invited to compete in the Hardest Shot contest. Connauton won the competition with a shot of 99.1 MPH. Amazing for a young man at his age, and his stage of development.

Back in junior, Kevin Connauton played one season for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, where he recorded 24 goals, 48 assists and 72 points in a 69-game season. Of those 24 goals, 16 of came on the Giants power play—a franchise record.

Consider he was a rookie, it is very impressive. Also, his peers voted for him as having the hardest shot in the WHL that year.

Right now, there are some parts of the game that Connauton admits he would like to work on. As good as he is offensively, he is still learning the defensive size of the trade. According to an interview with Vancouver Sun writer Cam Tucker, veteran Wolves defenseman Nolan Baumgartner had some things to say about Connauton's defensive skill set.

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"He's coming along," said Baumgartner, "Last year was his rookie year and at times he struggled, but it's tough to step in. Sometimes you're in and out of the lineup and try to get some confidence going, which he's playing with a lot of this year. And confidence can go a long way."

Connauton finished the 2011-12 season with 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points in 73 games played. That is a 10-point improvement from his rookie season in the AHL.

With two years of experience playing with men in the AHL, and including a full summer ahead of him this year, it is quite possible that Kevin Connauton can see ice time with the Vancouver Canucks in the not-so-distant future.

Mike Gillis said in late April that he has reminded his prospects to do mainly two things: work on strength and increase their speed. If those two things happen, these young hockey players can show up as totally different players at training camp in September.

He is hoping to see a few surprises in the near future, and one of those may be Connauton, who Gillis said "is a player that's made great strides this year."

In the video below, a quick summary of Kevin Connauton's season highlights is displayed. There are plenty of clips showing his impressive rocket from the point on the power play. Hope you enjoy it.

This is Joseph Trenton reporting from Vancouver.

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