John Tortorella and Travis Konicney know the importance of opportunity for young Flyers


VOORHEES, NJ — Just a day before the 2017-18 NHL break, Travis Konicney walked into the locker room at Nationwide Arena and saw his name next to Claude Giroud and Sean Couturier.


He lit up at the sight of opportunity.

“I remember from there I played the rest of the season with that streak and that was kind of where I found my confidence,” Konichi said on Wednesday.

In his second season in the NHL, the 20-year-old Konechnie posted 10 points (four goals and six assists) through 35 games. Once he joined Giroux and the Couturier that night Against John Tortorella’s Blue Jackets, he went on to score 37 points (20 goals, 17 assists) and a 19-plus rating over his last 46 games.

In this transitional season 2022-23, there have been plenty of opportunities for a large number of young players in the organisation. The Flyers want to see what they had in their youth as they try to decipher who is part of the future. He gives Tortorella, in his first year as the Flyers’ head coach, a chance to play in the big situations.

The pilots hope they’re starting to see the fruits of this. Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett are 23-year-old forwards who are getting their first crack at a full-time NHL assignment. He most recently played on the first line alongside seasoned veteran James Van Riemsdyk, and has produced Frost and Tippett.

Frost has seven points (three goals, four assists) and a plus-2 rating over the Flyers’ last eight games, while Tippett has six points (four goals, two assists) and a plus-5 mark. Seven of the eight games came down the same line with Van Riemsdyk, who came back two weeks ago from a broken finger.

“When you get an opportunity like this, it’s amazing how far a young player can go,” Konicny said. “You can just see their confidence, it just grows and grows.

“I can’t speak highly enough of how much it means when you get a little bit of confidence as a young player, you start to show a little bit of what you can bring to the game instead of overthinking every game.”

The Airmen experienced other positive developments from their youth. Noah Cates, 23, was excellent at Thursday’s 2-1 team win over the Devils He plays more than 18 minutes per game. He is now focusing on 25-year-old Konnicney and 22-year-old Joel Farabe.

Arguably the organization’s best defensive tackle, Cam York played his style to push the envelope. The 21-year-old has four points (one goal and three assists) and a +5 mark in six games since being called up from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley. He caught two of those passes on Tuesday The Flyers defeated the Blue Jackets, 5-3.

Before the start of the season, York was sent to the Phantoms. Tortorella challenged him You want to make a difference with his puck-shifting skill set.

“I definitely feel like I have some freedom,” Yorke said on Wednesday. “I definitely don’t have a long bond with Torts, but I know that. I have to be somewhat responsible, but at the same time, I can play my game, do what I do on the blue line, things like that in the attacking area.”

Tortorellas are okay with making mistakes as long as they are aggressive mistakes. Does this seem to fit the York game well?

“It fits her to a tee,” York said. “That’s nice of me. I don’t have any second thoughts, I don’t wonder what I’m doing there. I think that’s the most important thing.”

Glimpses of youth are just glimpses. The 11-15-7 Flyers will be looking to keep it going for longer periods. But giving young people the opportunity to learn through failure and success is the beginning.

“This is the way the process works,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “There are some heartening things about some of the points they’ve been made. I’m trying to calm down because I think there are pits as well. You think some of them figured it out but then you realize when you play a bunch of games, they really haven’t.”

The pilots said they needed to improve their talent level. They also need to see what their talents can do at home.

“I think we have to get better with skill. I do. I’m not talking flat out here, I’m not trying to be general manager, but we have to get more skill here,” Tortorella said. “Where these guys fall as we continue to build — it won’t be built in the next couple of months, that’s going to be a few years, that’s where skill comes into play. And that’s where it falls in place.”

“Has Frosty done enough and does he continue to grow over the next year or throughout this year to where we feel that is a big part of our skill level? Or do we need to look elsewhere?”

“It’s all constantly fluid as we’re going through here. I’m glad for Frosty because I think he’s found more consistency. But I still don’t know what the answer is with him as far as it falls into him; we still have to wait for that.”

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