VOORHEES – Travis Konecny lit the junior hockey world on fire last season with 124 points in 91 games.
He admits, though, that it wasn’t all that natural for him at the start of his season, specifically his first Flyers training camp.
“Last year I came in excited,” Konecny said. “I had my feet going and my energy, but I was kind of all over the place.”
The jumpy play wasn’t all that noticeable as he picked up one goal and one assist in two preseason games last season before being sent back to Ottawa on September 25. This time around, he’s playing more focused and more importantly, more relaxed.
He’ll get his biggest opportunity to date in Wednesday’s exhibition game against New Jersey at the PPL Center in Allentown. Konecny will work on the top line with Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl.
“It always helps playing with good players,” Konecny said. “They see the ice real well. I just have to move my feet and get in good areas and I’m sure they’re going to find the spots.”
The 2015 first round pick says he’ll control the little things and let the rest come to him. Getting the puck out of the zone, not forcing pucks into traffic and simply playing relaxed hockey are the three things Konecny says he’ll be zeroing in on.
It’s no coincidence that Konecny will be playing alongside two staples in the Flyers lineup, either. Head coach Dave Hakstol – realizing Wednesday’s lineup is on the younger side – says inserting the team’s top offensive prospect in that position is a beneficial move.
“We’re getting into our fourth exhibition game here now, so it’s an opportunity for Travis to go out and play the way he plays,” Hakstol said. “He has an opportunity to do that with two veteran players.”
One veteran who won’t be suiting up after putting forth a two-goal effort in a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders who has been impressed by the blue-chip prospect is Wayne Simmonds.
The first thing the 30-goal scorer mentioned in regards to Konecny was that “he’s a good kid first and foremost.” Simmonds has enjoyed watching the “tremendous skill” that Konecny possesses, as well.
“His work ethic is as high as his skill level and that’s going to lead to good things,” Simmonds said. “Taking a look at him out there, he’s a good little player. He fits in wherever they put him and he doesn’t look out of place.”
Circling back to Konecny’s self-admittance of trying to do too much last camp, the 19-year-old has matured quite a bit since then. That’s why he’s committed to improving himself this time around.
“I think this year I’m trying to approach it and play the game the right way,” Konecny said. “I’m trying to follow the system and play the right way this year.”