Konecny absence from camp doesn't sit well with Flyers brass
Coach, GM unhappy free agent forward not in attendance on first day of drillsby Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Travis Konecny's absence on the first day of Philadelphia Flyers training camp is not sitting well with coach Alain Vigneault or general manager Chuck Fletcher.
The 22-year-old forward is a restricted free agent.
"I'm very disappointed that [Konecny] is not here," Vigneault said Friday. "It's the start of a new era, the new group. Felt that it was very important for everybody to be here. With my time in the NHL, my experience, anybody that falls behind, a lot of times, whether it's injury or in [Travis'] 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 a new way of doing things.
"So it's unfortunate. But I'm going to work with the players that are here and going to work extremely hard with those players."
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Fletcher said Konecny and his agent have been adamant about wanting a long-term contract.
"They have some specific demands with respect to term," Fletcher said. "And we're trying to work with them in that regard. I think we were 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 what length of term you're negotiating on. But we will continue to work at it.
"We still have a ways to go. So I don't really know how to characterize it. Both sides are trying. It's a little quiet recently so you know ... we'll look to find a solution to break the impasse. I've been doing this 25 years and I think we go about it the right way, but we just can't seem to get to the same language on this one."
Konecny, the No. 24 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, had an NHL career-high 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in 82 games last season. He has 124 points (59 goals, 65 assists) in 233 games in three seasons for Philadelphia.
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Vigneault, hired April 15, spent Friday teaching players drills and installing his system and style of play, lessons Konecny will have to play catch-up with.
"Doesn't help, and it certainly doesn't help him," Fletcher said. "He's a good player, can help our team. But for now ... it's no different than you get an injury during the season and you don't have a player."
Defenseman Ivan Provorov, who was a restricted free agent prior to signing a six-year, $40.5 million contract (average annual value of $6.75 million) on Friday, said he and his teammates would help Konecny get up to speed whenever he arrives.
"We'll help him as much as we can to get him back to his game and make him feel comfortable," Provorov said. "If he has any questions about the new systems, the new coaches and us as players, we'll help him."
Konecny is expected to play in the top six for the Flyers this season, possibly at right wing on the top line with center Sean Couturier and left wing Claude Giroux. For the first practice of training camp, rookie Joel Farabee, the No. 14 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, skated in that spot.
"We believe we have good depth," Fletcher said. "We like our depth and 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."