Could an entire team of Connors win an NHL game?

Could an entire team of Connors win an NHL game?

We’ve reached the point in the offseason when things typically slow to a crawl, so it’s time to have a little fun.

Connor Bedard is poised to enter and excel in the NHL after the Chicago Blackhawks drafted him first overall. Connor McDavid is the best active player in the world, coming off his second Hart Trophy-winning season in three years and the third MVP nod of his career.

The league’s abundance of elite Connors doesn’t end there. Fans in Winnipeg know all about them. The Jets boast not one but two stellar players who go by that name, with perennially underrated sniper Kyle Connor and consistently dependable goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

There are so many Connors in the NHL that we wondered how a team full of them would look and fare. But despite the high-level talent at the top, there weren’t quite enough players who use the more common spelling, so we decided to allow single “n” Conors, as well.

Without further ado, let’s explore the would-be roster for this hypothetical squad on which every active player shares a first or last name with each of their teammates.

Forwards

Codie McLachlan / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Left wing
Center
Right wing

Kyle Connor (WPG)
Connor McDavid (EDM)
Connor Brown (EDM)

Conor Sheary (TBL)
Connor Bedard (CHI)
Conor Garland (VAN)

Drew O’Connor (PIT)
Connor Dewar (MIN)
Logan O’Connor (COL)

Connor Zary (CGY)
Connor McMichael (WAS)
Connor Bunnaman (UFA)

Conor Geekie (ARI)

The top six is clearly formidable. Garland might make more sense on the top line to some, but Brown and McDavid played together in junior and recently reunited when the Edmonton Oilers signed Brown as a free agent on July 1.

Bedard hasn’t played a minute in the league yet. However, his sky-high potential cements him as the second-line center between a pair of experienced wingers. The bottom six leave something to be desired, but it’s not bad considering the limitations in forming this roster. We made another exception by including the two O’Connors, and this third line isn’t terrible as a result.

The fourth line is thin, with a trio who played primarily in the AHL this past season. Zary is a center by preference, but he played as a left-winger in junior. Bunnaman, also a left-shot center, has to play out of position by necessity here. Zary gets to line up on his strong side because he’s coming off a 21-goal, 58-point effort over 72 games with the Calgary Wranglers.

Geekie has no NHL experience, but the 19-year-old – whom the Arizona Coyotes drafted 11th overall last year – impressed over his previous two WHL seasons with the Winnipeg Ice. He’s also older than Connor Hvidston, a winger with seven games of AHL experience who turns 19 in September and whom the Anaheim Ducks chose 139th in the same draft.

Defensemen

Stacy Revere / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Left defense
Right defense

Connor Clifton (BUF)
Connor Murphy (CHI)

Connor Mackey (NYR)
Conor Timmins (TOR)

Connor Carrick (SEA)
Connor Corcoran (VGK)

Connor McCarthy (Slovakia)

As the above chart makes clear, defense is the one significant area of concern for this imaginary team. Mackey would play his natural position on the left side, but Clifton and Carrick need to slide over due to the team’s lack of depth on the back end. But hey, at least they’d have Murphy and his 10 years of NHL experience to provide leadership and log heavy minutes.

The club has to rely on a less-than-inspiring group to round out the defense corps. Corcoran is a 22-year-old Vegas Golden Knights farmhand who has yet to play an NHL game, while the 27-year-old McCarthy only has pro experience in the AHL and ECHL.

In June, McCarthy signed with Slovakian side Banska Bystrica for next season. We’re betting he’d rather play – or even ride the pine – for this star-studded collection of namesakes.

Goaltenders

Jonathan Kozub / National Hockey League / Getty

Depth chart
Player

Starter
Connor Hellebuyck (WPG)

Backup
Connor Ingram (ARI)

Third
Connor Murphy (CGY)

As far as crease tandems go, this team would be in better shape than many NHL clubs. Hellebuyck won the 2020 Vezina Trophy and is a perennial contender for the hardware. He’s about as consistent as they come. Ingram is a solid No. 2, though his experience at the highest level is limited.

Murphy – the netminder, not the aforementioned blue-liner – signed with the Wranglers in March after four years in the NCAA split between Northeastern University and Union College. As fun (and confusing) as it would be to see two Connor Murphys on the ice simultaneously, we have a feeling that might not be preferable for this team.

The coaching staff

Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Our options are even more limited in this category, but we found our bench boss. Former NHL and WHA winger Cam Connor (seen above battling with The Great One during the Heritage Classic Megastars game in 2003) gets the honor of leading this illustrious group. He’s a Manitoba Hockey Hall of Famer and was best friends with WWE legend “Rowdy” Roddy Piper growing up, so that sounds like coaching material to us.

The Winnipeg-born 68-year-old would likely gel well with this team considering all the Winnipeg connections on the roster. He also had a few productive seasons as a WHA player in the ’70s. And even though he didn’t make much of an impact in the NHL, he learned from legendary head coach Scotty Bowman while playing for the Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens in 1978-79.

Rounding out the staff (remember, there aren’t a lot of choices here) is Peterborough Petes assistant coach Patrick O’Connor. He’d presumably be happy to get promoted from the OHL even while keeping the same job description. The English-born leader captained Great Britain’s national junior team and won the British Hockey League championship after turning pro.

                         

There you have it. We initially didn’t foresee an entire 23-player roster of Connors, Conors, and O’Connors capable of competing at the highest level, but here we are.

Could this team beat an actual NHL club like the basement-dwelling Ducks of this past season or the rebuilding San Jose Sharks after recently trading Erik Karlsson? We’ll never know. But despite its defensive deficiencies, we’d give this unique, talented squad the edge against several subpar real-life teams.

Given that the NHL (led by commissioner Gary Bettman) and NHLPA have experimented with numerous All-Star and World Cup formats over the years, why not assemble this group for real and see how it does in a one-off exhibition game for charity? We’d pay to see that, and we know some other people reading this would as well.

Make it happen, Gary.

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