For the first time in the history of the exceptional status rule, the player deemed “exceptional” will not be selected first overall after the Ottawa 67’s announced Friday afternoon that team will be selecting forward Travis Konecny with the first pick of the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.
Previous recipients of the illustrious “exceptional status” tag were all unanimously taken with the top pick in their respective drafts – centerman John Tavares went to the Oshawa Generals (2005), defenseman Aaron Ekblad was selected by the Barrie Colts (2011) and Connor McDavid was the Erie Otters top pick at last year’s 2012 draft. The last time Ottawa selected first overall was in 1993 when the franchise took Alyn McCauley, a similar smaller player who had a great OHL career scoring 119 goals and 284 in 208 games for the Ottawa 67’s.
Rather than selecting Detroit Compuware’s 15-year-old smooth skating defenseman, Sean Day, the Ottawa 67’s opted to stick to their guns with their top-ranked player in Travis Konecny. For those following the OHL Draft, this decision comes as no surprise as the 67’s GM/Head Coach Chris Byrne and his staff have preferred Travis Konecny all along. Ottawa’s decision doesn’t come without some high praise for Sean Day as Senior Advisor and major junior hockey legend, Brian Kilrea, likened Sean Day’s skating ability to Paul Coffey, one of hockey’s all-time best skaters. Similarily, Sherry Bassin of the Erie Otters, who hold the second overall selection has commended the young defenseman as well.
“He outskates everyone so much at this level,” said Bassin. “He joined the rush in some of the games I saw and he literally had to stop at the [opposing] blue-line. He would be so far ahead of everyone else, as a defenceman.”
Whispers areound the Erie Otters have Sherry Bassin passing on Sean Day as well, as the team targets Dylan Strome, a big playmaking forward of the Toronto Marlboros program.
Regardless of Day’s admirable skating back, Travis Konecny will become the first overall selection of the 2013 OHL Priority Selection draft and he is certainly deserving of the honour. Under the watchful eye of many scouts, Travis Konecny captained his Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs to an Alliance Championship. Konecny led the Alliance in scoring with 31 goals and 66 points in just 27 games en route to being named the league MVP.
A native of Clachan, Ontario, located 75 kilometres southwest of London, Konecny has been ranked as the top forward for the majority of the season. At last month’s OHL Showcase Cup, hundreds of spectators flocked to Mississauga’s Hershey Centre to watch this skilled forward take the ice. Konecny is listed at only 5-foot-8 and 173-pounds by OHL Central Scouting yet this feisty forward has no reservations about engaging in the physical game. On most nights, it is Travis Konecny who is mixing it up in the corners with opponents towering over him. In typical Konecny fashion, more times than not it is Konecny who exits with the puck on his stick.
Konecny, who wears number 9, has been a standout player ever since putting his name on the map at the Allstate All Canadians camp last summer where he competed for Team Hall. He has been electrifying rinks since and his ability to excite fans may be his most appealing attribute to the Ottawa 67’s, who look to add another offensive forward to their roster.
Sean Lafortune, the Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca, describes Konecny’s rare skill accurately.
“Konecny is a dynamic skater with natural speed and fluidity. Travis generates significant initial thrusts with his first steps and start up. The slick pivot possesses soft, articulate hands with excellent playmaking vision. Can play with a physical edge and be a physical force, delivers impactful open ice hits and can terrorize opposition defensemen on the forecheck. He excels in traffic being comfortable with body contact and protecting the puck as he finds open space. Shows intuitiveness at sensing danger, knows when to hold on to the puck for that extra second andwhen to distribute. Possesses a dynamic snapshot with an unpredictable release point that keeps goaltenders guessing.”
Konecny’s shooting skills are of elite quality for a 16-year-old as his release and quickness rival some of the best shooters in the National Hockey League. Opposing goaltenders are often left guessing as Konecny’s shot finds the back of the mesh before they know it. His ability to elude defenders using good lateral agility makes him a difficult forward to contain and it has certainly opened up ice for his teammates this season. Over the course of the season, Travis Konecny has answered every lofty expectation of being a top prospect. Not only have the Ottawa 67’s been impressed with Konecny’s on-ice performance but they have been equally enamoured with his quiet, modest and polite personality off the ice.
Passing up on the exceptional Sean Day is not an easy decision but Ottawa realizes that they have found something equally as special in Travis Konecny. His rare offensive skill, coachable attitude, impressive compete levels and off-ice intangibles are all qualities the organization value.
Travis Konecny is truly an exceptional player in his own right.