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Flyers Travis Konecny aims to get bigger, stronger

by Adam Kimelman / Philadelphia Flyers

Forward Travis Konecny knows he has some developing to do to reach his goal of playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Selected by the Flyers with the 24th pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, there are areas of his game on the ice he can improve. But most of the development the Flyers are looking for is off the ice.

Konecny, 19, is listed at 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, and the Flyers would like to see him get bigger and stronger to make sure he's ready to handle the rigors of life in the NHL.

"I've definitely put on, I think I've put on nine pounds since I've stopped playing and got ready for camp," Konecny said during Flyers development camp. "… I know a lot of the guys in the NHL are playing probably 185 and above. That's my main goal, to get up to that and give myself the best chance when I jump into the League."

The goal for Konecny is balancing added weight and strength without sacrificing the speed and skill that drew the Flyers to him. Last season, he tied for seventh in the Ontario Hockey League with 101 points (30 goals, 71 assists) in 60 games, and in three OHL seasons, he has 239 points (85 goals, 154 assists) in 183 games.

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"For me, it was just finding a good meal plan with my trainer back home and putting on some pounds while I was gaining muscle mass as well," Konecny said. "I'd play with it a little bit. I'd get on the ice and feel it out and see if my weight matches my speed, and make sure I'm not losing anything."

Konecny understands learning to be a pro off the ice is as important as any skill he learns on the ice. That's why he has put in the work to learn what and when he needs to eat to reach his goal.

"A couple Big Macs and I thought I'd be good to go; to me that's putting on weight," he said. "But as you grow up and learn the game, you have to put on healthy fat and there's ways to do that. We had a nutrition program here. … You have to soak all that stuff up. A lot of people just sit there and just get through it, but you've got to listen to it and make sure you implement that into your game.

"It's tough. I'm still human, I love my cheesecake, things like that. It's still in my diet; it's good to get those fats in you too. Just making sure that I'm getting a lot of protein in me. Big meals and healthy fats, things like that. It's as simple as when I'm done with a workout, I'm getting food in me right away. Get it into my body and make sure my muscles are getting the proper nutrition they need to put on the weight. It's not as easy as it sounds, but it's definitely part of my summer this summer. One of the things I like about it is after a workout, I put a lot of sugar into my body so I get some juice in me. I enjoy that stuff."

The Flyers have enjoyed the changes they've seen in Konecny during development camp.

"He's a little thicker," development coach John Riley said. "He's got a good year under his belt. Mother Nature has done her thing, so he's a little bigger. He's very talented. You see some of those drills and he does them with ease in some cases. He's growing as a player, he's growing as a young man. He's a really good kid. He takes instruction well. He's going to keep getting better."

The Flyers were 22nd in the League last season at 2.57 goals per game, and had six goals in six Stanley Cup Playoff games. Adding more offense has been an oft-stated goal by general manager Ron Hextall, and Konecny could be in line to supply it.

"I want to be on the Flyers and that's my goal," Konecny said. "It's been my goal since last year when I came to camp, and I want to be on the team as quick as possible."

But since Hextall took over as GM in 2014, the Flyers have been hesitant about rushing players to the NHL, and Hextall has said in the past there's nothing wrong with a player staying at a lower level longer.

"If he's going to make us better, then he'll make the team," Riley said. "He's a good player. I saw him play a lot this year, in Sarnia and before that in Ottawa, over in Finland at the World Juniors [for Canada]. He was an impact player at that level. Whether he's ready or not to make that jump … people focus on the size because he is a smaller player. But he's also a [1997] born. He's a young player. Whether he's small or big, he's still got to grow his overall game."

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