VOORHEES, N.J. – If you’re skeptical of the chances for a 19-year-old forward earning a spot on the Flyers, look no farther than Travis Konecny.
Konecny came into the 2016 training camp and made an immediate strong first impression.
Three weeks later, he was in the starting line-up.
Fast forward to 2018 and take a quick look at the Flyers’ projected roster.
Uh, there just might be possible vacancies at third- and fourth-line center.
Well, that could mean an opening for 2017 first-round draft pick Morgan Frost, who enjoyed a spectacular season last year with the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, posting 112 points in 67 games.
Don’t think Frost isn’t aware of the possibilities. Why else would he spend the offseason working out like a demon, adding 12 pounds of muscle to move him from 172 to 184 in the process?
Konecny set the example for Frost, playing in 70 games with 11 goals that 2016-17 season, then following that up with 24 goals in an 81-game effort last season.
Of course, these kind of stories don’t happen that happen, unless you want to check the resumes of Ivan Provorov and Sean Couturier.
If it were to happen for Frost, it would only add to the Flyers’ speed and energy level.
“I think everyone here is trying to vie for those spots,’’ Frost said after a rookie camp session at the Skate Zone. “Especially as a centerman, hopefully there’s a chance for me to make it.’’
Some of this depends on where center/wing Scott Laughton winds up. If the Flyers start Laughton on the flank, that would create a possible second opening.
“I’m just going to work my hardest,’’ Frost said, “and try to earn one of those spots.’’
General manager Ron Hextall would like nothing better than to see Frost make the roster this year, although he’s always the first to preach patience with his “young kids.’’
Yet, Hextall felt strongly enough about Frost to trade Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues to acquire the first-round pick needed to acquire Frost.
It isn’t often that a GM goes out of his way to state for the record he specifically made a trade to acquire a certain player.
Frost, who just turned 19 this past May, knows it’s a big jump to bypass from junior right to the pros without even playing a game in the American Hockey League.
This year’s training camp, which opens Friday, will be his second and that should help the transition, should a promotion come about.
“There’s a different comfort level,’’ he said. “It’s nice to know most of the guys, know the staff, be comfortable on the ice. You know what’s going on.’’
Adding the weight could be important, especially because centers have to operate at times in high traffic areas.
Frost got politically correct when asked if he would be disappointed to return to the Greyhounds for another year of seasoning.
There’s always the possibility of a nine-game trial in the NHL before being sent back, but that almost never seems to work out.
“There’s always little things you can improve on,’’ he said. “Whether it’s becoming more of a leader – leading by example – working on my faceoffs, working below the dots, it doesn’t matter. You can always keep getting better.’’
Hart eyes first pro year
Goaltender Carter Hart, listed as the No. 1 prospect in the Flyers’ organization, is about to see his first professional action, be it with the Phantoms or the Flyers this season.
He’s coming off a strong junior career with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, posting a 31-6-3 mark with a 1.60 goals-against average in 41 games last year.
The contracts of both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth expire after this season, so there is the normal expectation that Hart and another prospect, Alex Lyon, will be in position to take over in 2019-20.
But let’s not rush things.
“Before (in Flyers’ training camp), you get to know the pro mindset,’’ he said. “In the American League level and the NHL.
“For me this year, the obvious goal is to make the NHL. But if that doesn’t happen, Lehigh Valley is a great spot.’’
Hart actually joined the Phantoms during the playoffs but did not get into any games. Still, the experience was worthwhile.
“I got to experience that city and what it’s about,’’ said the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native. “They have a great set-up in Allentown. Either way, I have to make the most of whatever opportunity I get.’’