Travis Konecny has his sights on the NHL and making the Philadelphia Flyers roster for the 2016-17 campaign. It was a roller coaster of a season for Konecny in 2015-16. He started the year as captain of the Ottawa 67’s, represented Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, was traded from the 67’s to the Sarnia Sting and suffered a shoulder injury during the OHL Playoffs.
Over the off-season, Konecny has had one goal in mind: make the jump to the NHL by earning a roster spot with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers are excited about having Konecny as part of their organization. When the Clachan, Ontario native was drafted by the Flyers in 2015, General Manager Ron Hextall said, “He brings speed, skill, competitiveness, and is the Captain of his junior team. He has a heart of a lion and that’s huge for us. We believe he will be a successful player.” Looking at his junior career, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic if you’re a Flyers fan. He is explosive offensively with 252 points in 190 games and is a leader, having captained his Midget AAA team, the Ottawa 67’s and the Canada U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in 2014-15.
The Trade: Lessons Learned
After playing for Team Canada at the 2016 World Juniors, Konecny was traded from the Ottawa 67’s to the Sarnia Sting in a blockbuster deal, It caught Konecny by surprise, and without a doubt, being the centerpiece in a major trade halfway through a season is a difficult transition for a young player.
“The trade definitely opened up my eyes to the business side of things, and that hockey isn’t just about playing the game,” Konecny said. “There is stuff that happens off the ice. I learned how to move on and pass adversity, moving from a comfort zone in Ottawa and moving somewhere I didn’t know anyone or the players. It was a tough transition, I learned a lot, and if it ever happened again I would be able to do it.”
Sam Studnicka, an Ottawa 67’s teammate of Konecny’s, was also included in the trade. “It always helps with the transition to have my teammate come with me, the first couple days you two can hang out, you’re not alone in a new city. The first couple days it was nice having him there and someone to fall back on and just chat to,” he said.
Off-Season: Flyers Development Camp
Konecny, who has now been through two development camps with the Flyers, has developed his leadership skills. “I did a little bit of things as far as leadership wise, I had my own team at some of the events, I definitely played a different role than my first year.” he said.
At this year’s development camp, Konecny was joined by a fellow Sarnia Sting teammate Anthony Salintri at camp. Salintri was selected by the Flyers 172nd overall in the 2016 NHL Draft. Having been through a development camp before, Konecny was a mentor for the new member of the Flyers family. “I talked to him a few times the day of the draft, heading into development camp and now main camp, it’s difficult for a first-year guy, I went through it, I didn’t know what to expect last year and I gave him [Salintri] a bit of a heads up on what to expect for us being at the rink, the fitness testing and the on-ice part of things.”
After his first development camp in 2015, Konecny had a career season in the OHL, with 104 points in 62 regular season and playoff games. He attributes part of this success to what he learned at camp. “I definitely came back from Flyers camp feeling confident and had a little more added to my repertoire and the game was simpler for me when I put little pieces together. I found a lot of my success came after the trade and the World Juniors really got my confidence up. I came to Sarnia and I just played confident, had fun with the game and things started going together for me.”
In preparation for the upcoming season and the Flyers rookie and main camps later this month, Konecny has been focusing on off-ice training and gaining muscle by being in the gym five days a week. He has been working on a variety of lower-body, upper-body, speed, agility and conditioning exercises. “I have put on a lot of weight. I feel a lot stronger and bigger so that’s a positive. I did certain things as far as meal plans and balancing that out with my strength and making sure I don’t lose my speed and agility so I can play the same game.”
Off-Season: Hockey Canada Showcase
After having a career OHL season and a strong performance at the 2016 World Juniors, Konecny was invited back to the annual Hockey Canada Showcase in preparation for the 2017 tournament. “I felt more comfortable heading into this camp, played a different role as a leader. It’s always fun meeting those guys and seeing those guys that play all-around the world from different leagues,” he said.
Now that the tournament shifts back to Canadian soil this December, Konecny expressed how special it would be to make the roster. “The guys that are going to be fighting for those spots are going to be lucky if they get to play on the team. I spoke to some of the players that played in that tournament [2015 World Juniors], I really hope I get to experience that and it would be something special to be a part of.”
Off-Season: Flyers Main Camp and the NHL
With Flyer forwards Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare absent for a portion of the main Flyers camp due to their participation at the World Cup of Hockey, an opportunity opens for rookies to shine and make an impression on the Flyers coaching staff and management. Konecny is focused on seizing this opportunity. “I am going to work hard and show that I want to be on the team no matter what it takes. I am going to come into camp making sure I am doing all the little details right, hopefully the spots that are open give me a little extra room to be noticed and my goal is to play there [Philadelphia].”