VOORHEES, N.J. — The way Travis Konecny sees it, hockey can sometimes imitate life.
Last winter, he was traded from his junior club in Ottawa to Sarnia the day after the World Junior Championships trade embargo was lifted.
"It's good to learn," the Flyers' right wing prospect said at the team's development camp on Thursday. "It's part of hockey, my first experience going through a trade. I kinda opened my eyes that this is a business."
His second eye-opener came two games into the OHL playoffs when he suffered a tear in his left shoulder, a year after injuring his A/C joint in the opposite shoulder.
"Hockey applies to life," Konecny said. "It gave me some adversity to go through. ... For me, it was a lesson on overcoming things, new situations, new people, and learning to adapt."
Sounds like a pretty mature 19-year-old who some feel has a chance to make the Flyers' roster this fall out of training camp.
"Sometimes you hear things, guys talk and your names comes up, but I personally don't try to think about it too much," Konecny said. "I stay humble. We're all on the same level and fighting for the spot on the team. That's later on in the summer."
The London, Ontario native had an outstanding year in junior with 30 goals and 101 points in the OHL (two clubs), better than a 30-point improvement over his previous junior season.
There was actually some talk that the Flyers' second first-round pick (No. 24 overall) from the 2015 NHL draft would make the roster last fall.
"For sure, I want to be on the Flyers, that's my goal," Konecny said of his September expectations. "It's been my goal since last year when I came to camp. I want to be on the team as quick as possible."
Flyers general manager Ron Hextall again emphasized on Thursday he won't push the envelope on either Konecny or defenseman Ivan Provorov, picked seventh overall last year. He also said his decision not to promote Konecny last season was proven correct.
"Any player can be the best player in junior hockey if they go back," Hextall said. "We want all our players to be better than they were last year. Look at Travis Konecny. He is a better player last year than the year before, which is exactly what we wanted to see.
"If we had kept Travis last year, he had a pretty good camp and stuff. Would he have been as good a player right now? No way in hell he'd be as good a player as he is right now."
One thing Hextall is still concerned about is Konecny's size. He is just 5-foot-10 and 183 pounds — eight pounds heavier than he was last year at this time.
The Flyers would still like to see him gain more weight and muscle because the average NHL defenseman is over 200 pounds. Also, he could stand the added bulk given his two shoulder injuries.
In other words, the Flyers are going to want Konecny to add more muscle this summer.
"All these kids have to be bigger," Hextall said. "You can't just snap your fingers and put on 15 pounds. It has to be the right weight. You've got to gain weight, gain strength, and also keep your flexibility, your mobility, your agility, your speed. It's a process."
Konecny is cognizant that this all factors into whether he makes the roster or returns to junior one more year.
"I put on [eight] pounds; I can play at 160," he said. "I'm feisty. I guess 183 gives me a little more of an advantage but I'm not concerned about my size."
His biggest improvement from last year is refining his overall game, especially on the defensive side of the puck. He was minus-15 his first year at Ottawa (2013-14). This year? He was plus-26.
"For me, it's been my two-way play," Konecny said. "I've gotten a lot better at that. My first year in the OHL, I don't even know what my minus was, but over the past years I managed to climb my way back up to plus.
"I've become a better defensive player. Everything can be better — shooting, skating, everything."
The Flyers need scoring and some wingers who have the kind of cheetah-like moves on the ice that Konecny possesses. He can dazzle with the puck — and score, as well. Could he move to left wing, where the Flyers have a pressing need?
"I played left before and was comfortable there," Konecny said. "It's nice to hear there's a need for offensive help. At the same time, I'm not trying to think of that. I'm working my hardest to do what I can do and the rest takes care of itself."
While he wants to be in the NHL this season, Konecny echoed Provorov's remarks on Thursday that if he has to return to junior, he won't suffer for it.
"It doesn't matter where you play. You can always better yourself, no matter what level you are at, if you are working hard on things you need to improve," Konecny said.
"If I go back down there, I will make sure to improve myself to the best of my abilities."