Konecny to debut vs. Rangers; Flyers cut 18 from roster

Alain Vigneault

VOORHEES – So much for taking his time to get into game action.

Travis Konecny, who missed a handful of training camp days until his new six-year, $33-million was finalized, plans to make his preseason debut in Saturday’s home game against the New York Rangers.

Konecny has been putting in extra work since hitting the ice for the first time at the Skate Zone on Wednesday.

He was already pretty much in game shape so it’s just a matter of getting new coach Alain Vigneault’s systems down.

That means a little overtime in the video room.

The 22-year-old right wing, coming off a pair of 24-goal seasons, skated on a line with Kevin Hayes and Oskar Lindblom on Friday.

However, Vigneault indicated Konecny will be with two different linemates for the Rangers game.

Some of that could have to do with roster cuts, which Vigneault said were pending for late Friday afternoon.

Konecny looked pretty spent by the time he reached his locker but it’s all good.

“It (the Rangers game) will be big,’’ Konecny said. “I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time now. I just hope everything I’ve been doing on the ice and off the ice will translate (into success).’’

Konecny believes he’s ready, both from a mental and physical standpoint.

“System-wise, I think I’ve got it. . .it’s a lot of reading and reacting, just kind of playing the game,’’ he said. “I think the conditioning will show itself tomorrow; you can practice all you want but you can’t really know until you play.’’

Who knows? The Hayes-Konecny-Lindblom unit could still be in place when the Flyers open their season in the Czech Republic (Prague) on Oct. 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hayes played four years for Vigneault with the New York Rangers, so he might have a little inside information on the coach.

“He (Hayes) is a good guy, lots of energy,’’ Konecny said. “Very smart player, actually, uses his body well, creates space. It gives you time to move around, get open.’’

Vigneault has been promoting an up-tempo game. Konecny should fit into that style quite nicely.

“I think so,’’ he said. “I think that style will benefit the style I like to play. Again, I’ll see once I translate all the systems into game-like (conditions) but everything so far I’ve seen and listened should fit into the system I like to play.’’

>Flyers cut 18 players

The Flyers are making roster cuts sooner than expected. They will place the following five players on waivers Saturday for the purpose of reporting to the club’s AHL Affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms: Defensemen Tyler Wotherspoon, Nate Prosser, T.J. Brennan and Reece Wilcox, plus right wing Kyle Criscuolo.

These 13 players have been assigned to the Phantoms: Goalie Felix Sandstrom, center Cal O’Reilly, left wing Greg Carey, right wing Maksim Sushko, goalie Kirill Ustimenko, center Gerry Fitzgerald, defenseman David Drake, center David Kase, right wing Pascal Laberge, left wing Isaac Ratcliffe, left wing Matthew Strome, defenseman Rob Michel and defenseman Josh Couturier.

“I got here this morning and met with my staff and (general manager) Chuck (Fletcher),’’ Vigneault said. “After looking at the last couple days, I feel this is a different situation than I’ve been used to in the past.

“I’m used to coming to camp in the past and my teams in the playoffs. So I usually give the veterans three of the six or seven (preseason games) off. At this time, our veteran players need more games than I originally planned.’’

Therefore the early cuts.

Some veterans might play as many as five of the seven games.

“With the new staff, I need to get these guys into more games,’’ Vigneault said. “So we’ve decided to accelerate the process. We were originally going to make some cuts on Monday.’’

The Flyers’ roster is now at 36 players.

>Morin still catching up

Former first-round draft pick Sam Morin still has high hopes for making the Flyers, despite the fact he’s only played in only 24 professional games (17 AHL, seven NHL) over the past two seasons.

An ACL injury limited him to just seven games last year.

Needless to say, he has to stay healthy if entertains the notion of sticking with the Flyers as a possible seventh or eighth defenseman on the roster.

“My skating is still there,’’ the 24-year-old offered. “Physically, I could be a little bit better – the last game I could have been a little chippier.

“The big thing in practice, I want to improve my breakouts. Two years ago I was making clean breakouts.  It’s little details, they can make a big difference, keeping your head up, knowing where your guys are.’’

There’s no way to prevent accidental injuries but he can control his conditioning.

“I need to play games,’’ he said. “You work hard in practice but you can’t simulate game conditions. I’ve only played 20-something games the last two years. I just have to stay healthy and play games.’’




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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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