Updated: 5:30 p.m.
VOORHEES, N.J. — Travis Konecny was nowhere to be seen Friday at Flyers Skate Zone as 2019 training camp got underway.
And the vibes from his general manager and head coach regarding his absence weren't exactly rosy.
"I'm very disappointed that T.K. is not here," Alain Vigneault said after his first practice leading the Flyers. "It's the start of a new era, a new group, I felt that it was very important for everybody to be here.
"With my time in the NHL, my experience, anybody that falls behind — whether it's injury or in T.K.'s situation not coming to camp — usually it takes them a little bit of time to get back at it, especially at this time with a new coaching staff and new way of doing things.
"It's unfortunate, but I'm going to work with the players that are here and going to work extremely hard with those players."
The entire offseason has passed and Konecny, an important forward to the Flyers' 2019-20 season, remains a restricted free agent. While it's unclear when he'll be in camp, the intricacies to why the Flyers and his representation can't agree to terms on a new contract became a bit clearer Friday.
GM Chuck Fletcher said the Flyers are willing to be flexible but Konecny's camp would "prefer a longer-term deal right now." A longer-term deal might make sense for the Flyers because Konecny is only 22 years old and hasn't fully blossomed yet. Locking up Konecny for more years before he potentially hits a different tier could attract the Flyers.
"I honestly don't know what to say," Fletcher said. "I've been doing this 25 years, I think we go about it the right way, but we just can't seem to get to the same language on this one.
"Still have a ways to go. I don't really know how to characterize it, both sides are trying. It's been a little quiet recently, so we'll look to find a solution that will break the impasse."
Are the sides differing on years or money?
"Both," Fletcher said. "They have some specific demands with respect to term. We're trying to work with them in that regard. We're a little more flexible, I think we would look at a two- or three-year deal or a longer-term deal, and they prefer a longer-term deal right now, so certainly that makes it a little bit more difficult when you narrow the scope of length of term you're negotiating on. We'll continue to work at it."
For now, the Flyers have to practice, prepare and move forward without Konecny. Negotiations can change quickly, but nothing sounds promising at the moment and the Flyers have a preseason game on Monday. There's a new head coach and two new assistant coaches. There's no doubt time is precious in camp.
"It certainly doesn't help him," Fletcher said. "For us, he's a good player and can help our team. For now, you guys hear these clichés all the time, but it's no different than when you get an injury during the season, you don't have a player. We believe we have good depth, we like our depth, there's opportunity now for other players to step up and show what they can do. We'd rather Travis was here, but he's not, so we just have to move on without him and hopefully at some point he gets in."
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