Travis Konecny is a relentless pest on the ice who likes to agitate opponents by calling them nerds (among several unprintable words), and gets under their skin with an oh-so-active stick.
And, so, naturally, Flyers players and coaches were thrilled to see the chirpy right winger finally sign a contract and join them at training camp Tuesday.
“It’s about time he showed up,” defenseman Robert Hagg cracked after Tuesday’s morning skate in Voorhees.
Hagg turned serious.
“It’s good to have him signed and back before the season starts,” he said. “It’s nice to have him around in the locker room. He’s an awesome guy to be around. I mean, just look at him and you can get get a laugh.”
“I think everyone knows what he brings — so much speed and tenacity — and he brings a lot of energy to the room,” forward Scott Laughton said.
After participating in drills Tuesday, Konecny, who signed a six-year, $33 million contract, said he was excited to be back.
“You want to be there with them,” he said of his teammates. “You want to be at training camp and all the ups and downs and hard stuff. You want to be there with everybody. I guess it’s part of the process and I just had to trust it, and thankfully I’m here now and it wasn’t too long.”
Konecny, 22, said coach Alain Vigneault’s comments early in camp about his needing to arrive and learn the system didn’t necessary speed up the negotiating process. “I had already wanted to be here,” he said.
While negotiations were taking place, Konecny did a lot of work on his own in his native London, Ontario. He said it won’t take him long to get into game shape.
Vigneault said he was targeting Saturday night’s home game against the Rangers — the fourth of the Flyers’ seven preseason contests — for Konecny to be in the lineup.
Konecny, a 24-goal scorer in each of the last two seasons, missed four days of camp and had some expected rust at Tuesday’s session. He will skate Wednesday with new skills coach Angelo Ricci and watch video to catch up on the team’s new system. A 2015 first-round draft pick who is entering his fourth year with the Flyers, Konecny will practice Thursday and Friday and “in theory” should be ready to play Saturday, Vigneault said.
“I think by that time, video-wise, he’ll be up to speed,” Vigneault said. “He might be a couple days behind drill-wise, but I think with the video work, he should be fine.”
Vigneault was pleased that the contract negotiations didn’t linger any longer, saying it was important for Konecny to get into camp and get acclimated to his system.
“I’m happy to see him, and he’s happy to be here,” Vigneault said. “There’s some issues sometimes, but he’s here and now let’s get back to work and get caught up here.”
Konecny said the Flyers are improved from last season.