There seems to be a new, impactful addition from the Flyers minor league system every season in Philadelphia. Last year, it was defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who helped ignite a 15-5-3 run at the end of the season to make the playoffs. Before that, it was Nick Cousins and Scott Laughton making their debuts in 2014-15 and 2013-14, respectively.
There’s still a lot to look forward to in the Philadelphia farm system, but it appears as though the guy to stick to their young-gun tradition is 19-year-old Travis Konecny.
“I think I’m ready for the next step, but I definitely still have things that I have to work on,” Konecny said during Flyers development camp according to Dave Isaac of the Courier-Post. “Like I’ve been saying all week, wherever I am I know I can improve myself. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you can always better your game or your diet or anything. You can always do that stuff. It doesn’t matter where you’re playing. But yeah, as far as I’m concerned I want to be up here (in the NHL).”
The numbers suggest he deserves to be in the NHL. Konecny destroyed the OHL competition, scoring 30 goals and 101 points in just 60 games. He was eighth in scoring in the entire league, and Konecny missed several games due to injuries and the World Junior Championship for Team Canada.
If the 19-year-old could even be a shell of his minor league self at the NHL level, he would really help the Flyers’ depth scoring. Last season, 61.7 percent of Philadelphia’s goals came either from the top two scoring lines or Gostisbehere, so Konecny would be a welcome addition to one of those bottom two lines.
He also has the tenacity to play a checking line role. His bio at Elite Prospects says he “plays with the bite and intensity of a guy who is willing to do anything to win a game.” He also has incredible hockey sense for a 19-year-old, electrifying puck handling and shooting skills while also having a pretty unique set of determination in all three zones.
Konecny possesses the skills to eventually become a top-six forward, but he wouldn’t flounder in the bottom-six early in his NHL career should the Flyers desire to use him there.
It appears as though Konecny will really have to shine in training camp, though, in order to stay with the Flyers. Despite the positive impact Philadelphia prospects have made the last few seasons, especially Gostisbehere, the Flyers haven’t promoted one of their prospects directly from the Canadian junior leagues to the NHL since 2011.
General manager Ron Hextall believes in over-riping his prospects rather than bringing them up too soon. He’s made it clear this summer that if Konecny proves he deserves a roster spot, that they will make room for him, but that he has to show he belongs during training camp.
In other words, the fact he averaged over 1.68 points per game in the OHL last season will have no bearing on whether he makes the NHL this fall. Philadelphia will have no qualms about sending Konecny back to the OHL for a fourth season if he doesn’t have a stellar camp.
That said, he will likely receive a better opportunity to showcase his skills in this training camp than last year’s. Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare will all be absent from the beginning of training camp due to the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. This will give teams around the league a chance to see what their young prospects can do when given more responsibility.
During that time in Philadelphia, Konecny will certainly be one of those players.