Flyers

Flyers hope Travis Konecny can add some muscle

Flyers hope Travis Konecny can add some muscle

VOORHEES, N.J. — The way Travis Konecny sees it, hockey can sometimes imitate life.
 
Last winter, he was traded from his junior club in Ottawa to Sarnia the day after the World Junior Championships trade embargo was lifted.
 
"It's good to learn," the Flyers' right wing prospect said at the team's development camp on Thursday. "It's part of hockey, my first experience going through a trade. I kinda opened my eyes that this is a business."
 
His second eye-opener came two games into the OHL playoffs when he suffered a tear in his left shoulder, a year after injuring his A/C joint in the opposite shoulder.
 
"Hockey applies to life," Konecny said. "It gave me some adversity to go through. ... For me, it was a lesson on overcoming things, new situations, new people, and learning to adapt."
 
Sounds like a pretty mature 19-year-old who some feel has a chance to make the Flyers' roster this fall out of training camp.  

"Sometimes you hear things, guys talk and your names comes up, but I personally don't try to think about it too much," Konecny said. "I stay humble. We're all on the same level and fighting for the spot on the team. That's later on in the summer."
 
The London, Ontario native had an outstanding year in junior with 30 goals and 101 points in the OHL (two clubs), better than a 30-point improvement over his previous junior season.
 
There was actually some talk that the Flyers' second first-round pick (No. 24 overall) from the 2015 NHL draft would make the roster last fall.
 
"For sure, I want to be on the Flyers, that's my goal," Konecny said of his September expectations. "It's been my goal since last year when I came to camp. I want to be on the team as quick as possible."
 
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall again emphasized on Thursday he won't push the envelope on either Konecny or defenseman Ivan Provorov, picked seventh overall last year. He also said his decision not to promote Konecny last season was proven correct.
 
"Any player can be the best player in junior hockey if they go back," Hextall said. "We want all our players to be better than they were last year. Look at Travis Konecny. He is a better player last year than the year before, which is exactly what we wanted to see.

"If we had kept Travis last year, he had a pretty good camp and stuff. Would he have been as good a player right now? No way in hell he'd be as good a player as he is right now."
 
One thing Hextall is still concerned about is Konecny's size. He is just 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds — eight pounds heavier than he was last year at this time.
 
The Flyers would still like to see him gain more weight and muscle because the average NHL defenseman is over 200 pounds. Also, he could stand the added bulk given his two shoulder injuries.
 
In other words, the Flyers are going to want Konecny to add more muscle this summer.
 
"All these kids have to be bigger," Hextall said. "You can't just snap your fingers and put on 15 pounds. It has to be the right weight. You've got to gain weight, gain strength, and also keep your flexibility, your mobility, your agility, your speed. It's a process."
 
Konecny is cognizant that this all factors into whether he makes the roster or returns to junior one more year.
 
"I put on [eight] pounds; I can play at 160," he said. "I'm feisty. I guess 183 gives me a little more of an advantage but I'm not concerned about my size."
 
His biggest improvement from last year is refining his overall game, especially on the defensive side of the puck. He was minus-15 his first year at Ottawa (2013-14). This year? He was plus-26.
 
"For me, it's been my two-way play," Konecny said. "I've gotten a lot better at that. My first year in the OHL, I don't even know what my minus was, but over the past years I managed to climb my way back up to plus.
 
"I've become a better defensive player. Everything can be better — shooting, skating, everything."
 
The Flyers need scoring and some wingers who have the kind of cheetah-like moves on the ice that Konecny possesses. He can dazzle with the puck — and score, as well. Could he move to left wing, where the Flyers have a pressing need?
 
"I played left before and was comfortable there," Konecny said. "It's nice to hear there's a need for offensive help. At the same time, I'm not trying to think of that. I'm working my hardest to do what I can do and the rest takes care of itself."
 
While he wants to be in the NHL this season, Konecny echoed Provorov's remarks on Thursday that if he has to return to junior, he won't suffer for it.
 
"It doesn't matter where you play. You can always better yourself, no matter what level you are at, if you are working hard on things you need to improve," Konecny said.
 
"If I go back down there, I will make sure to improve myself to the best of my abilities."

Which Shayne Gostisbehere should Flyers fans expect in 2019-20 season?

Which Shayne Gostisbehere should Flyers fans expect in 2019-20 season?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra

The topic: Predictions for Shayne Gostisbehere's 2019-20 season.

Hall

Some reporter (it was me) was bullish on Gostisbehere entering the 2018-19 season. 

He was super impressed by Gostisbehere's skill and mobility during the preseason, especially with the defenseman fresh off a career-high 65 points, the fourth most among NHL blueliners in 2017-18.

He foresaw big things for Gostisbehere. And that reporter (it was me) was way off.

There are a handful of important factors to note when analyzing the outlook for Gostisbehere in 2019-20.

Firstly, Gostisbehere will be playing under a new coaching staff. Coaches and their philosophies are crucial to a player like Gostisbehere.

Secondly, during his exit interview, Gostisbehere admitted to dealing with a banged-up knee from early on through the midseason. He didn't use it as an excuse, but for a guy that relies heavily on his slipperiness and mobility, a knee problem can be a significant hindrance.

And thirdly, Gostisbehere should feel a lighter burden on his shoulders with the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. Both bring different elements to the table but understand goal prevention and can play minutes. One would think those acquisitions will allow Gostisbehere to play a bit more freely without the 26-year-old trying to do too much, overthinking every decision.

How all of the above impacts Gostisbehere's production and usefulness will be one of the more fascinating storylines to watch in 2019-20.

I don't see why Gostisbehere can't get back into the 50-point range or 40-assist territory — although, that will depend on a lot.

Destra

I'll be very upfront with my views of Gostisbehere's performance last season — it was no indication of the direction he is heading in as a player and it truly isn't a big concern (at the moment). He was one of many players who underperformed on the Flyers and when his lower-body injury surfaced at the season's end, it validated a lot.

He's about to have a bounce-back year — and it's going to be a good one.

Heading into this season, this is probably the most balanced the defense has looked in well over a decade. He will be able to play on his true side as a LHD and will have the opportunity to be a leader to whoever the other half of his pairing is.

Even though he wasn't at the top of his game in 2018-19, he was still able to put up nine goals — this tied him for the lead in most goals scored by a defenseman on the Flyers (along with Travis Sanheim).

Gostisbehere also has the ability to make or break his respective power-play unit. Not many players stationed up at the blue line have the kind of sniper shot he can produce. Even if he doesn't pot one, he is capable of getting the puck in deep and setting up high-danger scoring opportunities.

It'll be tough to top the numbers he put up in 2017-18 (65 points — 13 goals, 52 assists), but there's a chance he comes close to it. By the nature of his game, he is an offensive defenseman — his instincts are strong and he tries to contribute to his team in any way that he can.

It's very possible to see him at 55-plus points for 2019-20.

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A 30-goal defenseman? Flyers prospect Ronnie Attard is a 'double whammy' to watch

zack_hill_philadelphia_flyers_ronnie_attard.jpg
Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

A 30-goal defenseman? Flyers prospect Ronnie Attard is a 'double whammy' to watch

Ronnie Attard is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds.

He loves the physical nature of the game — playing with a mean streak, delivering hits and standing up for teammates.

"That's something that has been a staple of my game since I was a little kid, something that my dad instilled in me," Attard said in June. "If you're the hardest player to play against out on the ice, people are going to notice you."

What also gets you noticed? Thirty goals by a defenseman. That's what Attard pulled off with the USHL's Tri-City Storm in 2018-19. It turned him into a third-round selection of the Flyers this summer after Attard had been draft eligible twice and never heard his name called. He's a 20-year-old with booming potential.

"I still use that staple of being good defensively," Attard said. "Then I started incorporating my offense, which is a double whammy."

With the Storm, Attard blew up in one year. He went from 15 points and a minus-9 rating through 50 games in 2017-18 to 30 goals, 65 points and a plus-47 mark over 48 games to win 2018-19 USHL Player of the Year.

How in the world did he go from undrafted to double whammy, just like that?

You see where he was a year or two ago to where he is now, his mobility, he's gotten a lot stronger, he's gained a ton of confidence, especially on the offensive side of things. He's always been a competitive kid and a hard-nosed kid, but to see where his overall game has come, it hit you in the face when you went to watch him play.

Obviously, we're not expecting him to score 30 goals a year in the NHL, but that stat you can't hide from, either. You score 30 goals in any league in 48 games, you are doing something right.

- Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr

Strength and confidence can do wonders for a young player. Attard brewed the combination by working out at Western Michigan with former NHL head coach Andy Murray and the Broncos.

"Coach Murray called me up last summer and wanted me to be a part of their strength program and get on the ice there," Attard said. "That's been the biggest thing — being on the ice with his players, seeing what they do and they taught me a lot.

"I went back to my junior team and had a bunch of confidence."

Western Michigan will be a team to keep an eye on for Flyers fans in 2019-20. Attard is entering his freshman year for the Broncos, while fellow Flyers prospect Wade Allison will be a senior winger with something to prove.

"I know him pretty well, I've been kind of following in his footsteps," Attard said of Allison. "He played at Tri-City and then went to Western, and I did the same thing. We know a lot of mutual people and we get along really well.

"He gave me the rundown and how things are handled there. It's another top-notch organization, Andy Murray's been around the game a long time, so hoping to learn a lot from him."

Despite his big shot and 30-goal breakout season, Attard knows he's far from a finished product.

"My skating and just my consistency," Attard said of the areas in which he wants to improve. "There are some nights where I'm the best player out on the ice and there are other nights where I'm just kind of irrelevant. I want to be able to bring that every night, just knowing what it takes to get my game at that 100 percent level.

"I just want to keep getting better, develop my footwork, my consistency level, even my shot has a little work to be put into it. Once I think I can come to this level and succeed and be an impact and help these guys out, that's when I'm going to make the jump."

Attard turned heads with the jump he made last season.

How fast could he tackle college?

"He's going to a Western Michigan program with quality coaching," Flahr said. "He should be an interesting watch here over the next couple of years."

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