Earlier in the month I discussed Edmonton's potential strategy with the 16th overall pick, weighing out the options in terms of position and organizational need. The poll in that article determined that the majority of readers would prefer the Oilers draft the best player available according to their draft board, regardless of position. Following that, 21% of voters would prefer the team to draft a defenceman.
The SB Nation Mock Draft saw the staff here at Copper and Blue take Czech defenceman Jakub Zboril with the 16th overall pick, and should he still be there at that spot next Friday, that would be a fine outcome for the organization.
Today I'm going to look at a player who has seen his stock rise and fall and then rise again in his draft eligible year. He's been ranked as low as 26th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings, and as high as 11th on Future Considerations' final rankings.
Final Rankings Breakdown
Ranked #19 by Hockeyprospect.com
Ranked #11 by Future Considerations
Ranked #14 by McKeen's Hockey
Ranked #14 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Ranked #15 by TSN/McKenzie
Ranked #12 by ISS Hockey
Standing at a hair shy of five-foot-ten and 175 lbs, Konecny doesn't possess what most would consider ideal size for the NHL level. But as he showed at the NHL combine earlier in June, he's worked hard to get himself in tip-top shape.
"Konecny scored in the top 10 among players in the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo in three categories. He was second with 13 pull-ups; tied for fourth with 16 repetitions on the bench press; and was 10th in the standing long jump at 111.0 inches."
While fitness testing at the combine has become more of a formality these days, one with little effect on a player's draft stock, Konecny certainly didn't hurt his cause at the combine, proving there's plenty of power packed into his below-average-sized frame. It's a good thing, too, as Konecny is known for his tenacious, physical style of play.
"... plays with the bite and intensity of a guy who is willing to do anything to win a game ... when you put this skillset together with hard-nosed determination, proactiveness in all three zones, and a physical willingness to grind and persevere, you get a game-changer who can be extremely difficult to play against."
TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button begins his analysis of Konecny's play with the following:
"Travis is a very determined competitor who refuses to be denied. He will push through resistance and battle for every bit of space."
When you combine that brand of hard-nosed play with a diminutive stature, injury woes are often front and centre in scouting reports. It's important to note that Konecny did sustain an upper body injury in the latter of half of the 2014-2015 season that kept him out of some regular season and playoff games, but other than that he's played nearly two full OHL seasons.
Konecny entered the OHL with plenty of hype, being drafted first overall by the Ottawa 67's. He followed that up with an impressive 2013-2014 campaign, scoring 26-44-70 in 61 regular season games to lead his team in scoring, earning OHL rookie of the year honours. He had 20 multi-point games that season.
In 2014-2015, his offence lagged at 3-9-12 in 18 GP early in the season, causing him to drop to 26th on NHL CSS' Midterm Rankings. He picked up the pace, though, finishing with 26-30-56 in 42 GP and moving right back to where he started the season on most draft rankings.
He finished the season with 68 points in 60 games, or 1.13 points-per-game—a hair above the 1.11 he managed in 2013-2014. If you look at the pace he was scoring at in his final 42 games, which works out to 1.33 points-per-game, he's in the company of Matthew Barzal (1.30) and close to Timo Meier (1.48), and well above the production of higher-ranked players like Lawson Crouse (0.91) and Pavel Zacha (0.92).
Scott Reynolds is working on a Draft Comparables series right now here at Copper & Blue, and he noted the following in his most recent post:
"I also found that there was a particularly strong relationship between CHL and NHL performance if the player's points per game only improved by a small amount (less than 62%) from their Draft -1 season to their Draft season."
So, that said, we know more or less what we're getting offensively with a player like Konecny: using Gabe Desjardins NHLe numbers as a quick reference point, he projects to score 28 points as a rookie over a full 82 game season at the NHL level, and 33 points using his increased production over the final 42 games in 2014-2015.
Konecny also brings leadership qualities to the table, captaining his Ottawa 67's team as a second-year player, the Canadian U-18 squad at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and Team Ontario at the 2014 U-17 WHC.
All in all, Konecny appears to be the total-package, a versatile forward capable of playing centre or wing, who can contribute at both ends of the ice with his speed and creativity, and who can jump in on the penalty kill or the powerplay. He's the exactly kind of player the Oilers are going to need in a few years on a cheap entry level deal, who can be flexible and contribute throughout the lineup, whether it be on McDavid's wing or in a lesser role further down the lineup.
From Dan Stewart, director of scouting for Future Considerations:
"A super-driven kid who plays with high levels of skill and intensity. He is an on-ice leader and an elite level skater who uses strong offensive instincts, creative puck skills, a quick shot release and even reckless physical play to take over games. I absolutely love his all-round play and he is a guy I would love to have on my team. Problem is his durability due to his style of reckless play as we have seen over his short OHL career, will it translate to the NHL level or will he be destined to become an injury prone pro? I would bet he becomes a solid NHL pro as he learns to pick his spots better."
If Konecny is still there when Chiarelli goes to the podium for the second time next Friday, I'm hoping he's the player they take.