Welcome to our second player profile for the 2015 Draft. If you missed our first profile, you can check it out by clicking here. There will be several of these coming in the near future and leading up to the draft. Each profile will document a 2015-draft eligible player that the Panthers could pick based on their draft position, which we now know to be the 11th pick.
Today, we’ll highlight Travis Konecny, a right-winger playing for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League. Read on for a look at the number 14-ranked North American skater in this year’s draft.
With a majority of the players projected to be drafted in the 1st round being centers and defensemen, Travis Konecny will be a hot commodity after wingers Mitch Marner and Mikko Rantanen and could be chosen anywhere from the 11th or 12th pick to the 20th pick. Depending on the draft rankings you look at, he’ll be slotted anywhere from 14 to 23, however he has the potential to rise pending his participation in this year’s U18 World Championships.
Konecny just finished up his sophomore season in the OHL, during which he put up 68 points in 60 games as the captain of the Ottawa 67’s, including 29 goals and 39 assists. After a slow start, he picked up his game during the 2nd half of the season by collecting 38 points in 26 games and that pace continued on into the playoffs, as he produced 10 points in 5 games. Konecny was forced to sit out near the end of his team’s playoff run after aggravating a shoulder injury which he sustained on March 8th. He ended the season second in scoring for the 67’s with 10 points and 8 less games than the leading scorer. Konecny is currently the youngest team captain in the Ontario Hockey League after turning 18 in March. Last season, he was awarded the Emms Family Award, which is given to the OHL Rookie of the Year, after he led all rookies and his team in scoring with 70 points in 63 games. Konecny was drafted 1st overall by the Ottawa 67’s in the 2013 OHL Draft after a fairly prolific Bantam AAA and Minor Midget AAA career, during which he totaled 152 points in 63 games and 187 points in 84 games, respectively.
The Ontario-native has also represented Team Canada numerous times in various international tournaments. He captained the Canada Ontario U17 team at the World Hockey Championships last season and was third in scoring on the team with 4 points in 5 games. He helped lead the Canada U18 team to a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships the same year with 5 points in 7 games. Most recently, he was the captain of the U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament, leading the team to a gold medal thanks to the 5 goals he scored over the 5 games he played. Konecny was snubbed of a spot on an admittedly deep Team Canada roster for the U18 2015 World Junior Championships, although he was impressive at this year’s CHL Top Prospects Game, notching 2 goals and 1 assist.
Travis Konecny also brings a fairly complete package to the table. Despite being 5’10” and 176 pounds, he plays a very gritty, determined, physical game which is evidenced partially by a huge center-ice check he handed out at this year’s CHL Top Prospects game. In short, he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty. He’s made strides defensively since last season, improving from a minus 34 to a respectable minus 1 this season, although this part of his game could still use some work.
Offensively, he’s energetic, dynamic, and electrifying. He has the potential to change the course of the game when the puck is on his stick. As a human highlight reel, Konecny has easily some of the best hands in the draft and is definitely up there with the likes of Mitchell Marner and Connor McDavid in that regard. His wrist shot is quick, hard, and accurate, and he’ll use it from pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone. Like his stick-handling ability, his wrist shot is also one of the best in the draft and probably the most NHL-ready of his assets. Even though his playmaking ability and vision are two of his best assets, he’s not always looking to pass. Skating-wise, Konecny is fast and smooth, can easily get past defenders if he gains speed off the rush, and likes skating out from the corner and driving to the net with the puck. Konecny finished 3rd in this year’s CHL Combine in the on-ice portion after Connor McDavid and Mitchell Marner, and he led all participants with the top score in the off-ice component.
Overall, Konecny is another viable option for the Panthers who have the 11th pick in the draft. Konecny is a crafty, dynamic forward who is similar (prospect-wise) to Nikolaj Ehlers of last year’s draft. The Panthers don’t have much in the way of high-octane players in the system, so Konecny would undoubtedly be a great piece to add.