Flyers

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The longer Travis Konecny lasts through Flyers training camp, the more pressure he exerts on veterans whose job could be up for grabs.
 
Players such as Matt Read, who’s been in just one exhibition game thus far.
 
The 19-year-old Konecny has played with top players in exhibitions — Michael Raffl and Brayden Schenn plus Sean Couturier and Jacob Voracek — and been impressive. Read says he’s been cognizant of him, too.
 
“I’ve watched all the kids and he’s played good out there,” Read said. “He’s doing well. Young kid in the right spots, creating offense. He’s playing good hockey.”
 
Read is aware of the pressure, but also feels he has played well.
 
“My body and everything is ready for the opening night of the season,” he said, adding he needs another exhibition game to get in battle-ready mode with more one-on-one battles.
 
Read’s spot is vulnerable given he’s had declining numbers over the past two seasons, while not posting a 20-goal season since 2013-14.
 
Interestingly, general manager Ron Hextall said at the start of camp he has faith in Read and reinforced his stance Sunday while cautioning not to read anything into games played.
 
“The plan all along with us was to load up … look at kids and sprinkle some veterans in there,” Hextall said. “Actually, Reader has had a really good camp. His testing was good. In practice he was really good. We’re happy with Reader.”
 
Before camp began, Hextall acknowledged the decline in Read’s game.
 
“Whether or not he can get back to that 20-25 goal mark, we need Matt to be a good player for us and he’s obviously in here, one of the first veterans who’s here,” Hextall said in September. “I think that shows what his mentality is.”
 
The sense remains that Konecny, who has stood out, will nonetheless return to junior at some point. Konecny could start the season on a nine-game tryout because Schenn will miss the opening three games with a suspension, imposed after the playoffs last spring.
 
Even if that occurs, it doesn’t guarantee Konency stays here through the tryout.
 
“We haven’t played a veteran-laden lineup yet, but both have been good,” Hextall said of Konecny and defenseman Ivan Provorov, who is expected to make the roster.
 
As for how Schenn’s absence affects things, Hextall admitted he hasn’t ruled anything out, even keeping Konency around just for that scenario.
 
“That’s something we’ve got to work out,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of issues. Waiver issues, left wing, right wing issues. It’s not a perfect world having Brayden out three games. It gives us something else to bring into the equation.”
 
Additionally, Hextall gave strong support to Russian forward Roman Lyubimov, whose English is far more advanced than Evgeny Medvedev's was, and seems to grasp everything the coaching staff throws at him.
 
The 24-year-old Lyubimov’s extensive playing time in the KHL directly affects Konency in terms of a roster spot.
 
“I really like his game,” Hextall said of Lyubimov. “You saw it over in Europe. He played a North American game. Goes to the net hard. A big, heavy body and gets in on the forecheck. He’s done a lot of really good things.”
 
Coach Dave Hakstol echoed those sentiments.
 
“He keeps earning the next opportunity,” Hakstol said. “I guess that’s what he is supposed to do. He continues to show small improvements in areas of his game and he works at it away from the ice.
 
“He studies his game. He takes mistakes he sees from the previous day and applies it and tries to improve it … He works his tail off.”
 
Read understands all of this and takes nothing for granted. His best season was his first as a Flyer when he scored 24 goals with 47 points. That was five years and two coaches ago.
 
“I would say the last two years have been very disappointing,” Read said. “I try not to think too much on all that stuff, but obviously, something has to change to get to scoring more goals than I am now or than I have in the last two years.
 
“Yeah, it’s been frustrating, but if it’s not working you have to change something to fix it. That’s kind of what I’ve been doing. We’ll see how the season goes here, take it one game at a time.”
 
The final roster is due Oct. 11 at 5 p.m.