When looking at core members of the Philadelphia Flyers who can help lead the organization for the next decade, Travis Konecny is one of if not the player who many fans might think of. Ever since he first donned orange and black, he has consistently improved his game season after season as he continues to inch more toward the prime years of his career. The 2020-21 season was possibly going to be the next step for him to make progress. Even though the team itself had a disappointing campaign and he individually did not put up as many points as he normally does, fans can still be excited about what he is going to bring down the road.
An Odd Statistical Season
Konecny entered the NHL for Philadelphia during the 2016-17 season. He posted 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points in 70 games. One of the best things that probably could have happened for him was spending time with veterans on the squad at that time. Captain Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and Mark Streit (who had been a captain himself when he was with the New York Islanders years before) were a few of the experienced talents in the locker room during his rookie campaign.
Some people may have thought, even with how talented Konecny was, that he should have at least experienced a little bit of time in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. I can understand that point, and there are examples throughout the league of players who probably could have used seasoning in the minors before making an immediate jump to the NHL. However, he handled himself well during that transitional first season from spending time in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Ottawa 67’s and Sarnia Sting.
From his rookie season on, Konecny for the most part statistically increased his points. He has found a way multiple times to match his career-high in goals (24), and up until 2020-21, always set a new high in career assists. He was rewarded for his play with a new six-year contract before the start of the 2019-20 season. The Flyers wanted to lock him up for the future knowing what his potential is.
Konecny’s regular-season totals so far are below:
- 2016-17: 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points in 70 games
- 2017-18: 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points in 81 games
- 2018-19: 24 goals and 25 assists for 49 points in 82 games
- 2019-20: 24 goals and 37 assists for 61 points in 66 games
- 2020-21: 11 goals and 23 assists for 34 points in 50 games
This season was a bit of an odd year for him stat-wise, but it was not a normal one in general considering the COVID-19 pandemic having an impact. Life was altered for him and everyone else because of it. Despite the production decrease, it was still enough for him to be one of the offensive leaders. Konecny finished the year with 34 points, which had him sixth on the team behind James van Riemsdyk (43 points), Giroux (43), Voracek (43), Sean Couturier (41), and Joel Farabee (38).
Breaking down his point totals, Konecny was also sixth on the squad in goals (11). Farabee skated away with the most (20), followed by Couturier (18), van Riemsdyk (17), Giroux (16), and Kevin Hayes (12) before him. The assist column, meanwhile, had him in the top five behind Voracek, Giroux, van Riemsdyk, and tied with Couturier (23). He also was given a good amount of ice time, receiving anywhere between about 13 and 19 minutes in the 50 games he suited up in.
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Konecny also dealt with his share of negativity like some other players on the team did throughout the season. He was scratched by head coach Alain Vigneault as a way to try and shake his game up back in late January (a move that received its share of criticism). His game at 5-vs-5 was not where Vigneault wanted it to be, and he made the move to sit him. Unfortunately for Konecny, the scratching was more at the beginning of what became a six-game pointless streak that lasted from their Jan. 28 contest in New Jersey against the Devils to their matchup versus the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 2 at PPG Paints Arena. He also had a five-game pointless skid from April 11 against the Buffalo Sabres to April 18 in a game with the Islanders at Wells Fargo Center.
A couple stats that dipped for Konecny were shots and shot percentage. The 2019-20 season saw a career high for him in shot percentage (S%) specifically. He took 141 shots total that season, leading to a 17 S%. This year, he took 41 fewer shots (playing in 16 fewer games from the year prior as well) and totaled an 11 S%. It is something that he is going to take a look at before next season.
“‘Maybe I wasn’t shooting the puck as much as I was last year, trying to do too much,’ Konecny said. ‘Maybe just get back to simplify my game. I’m going to have some time to reflect on that and hopefully figure it out over the offseason.'” (from ‘Flyers’ Travis Konecny looks to the offseason for a positive reset,’ The Morning Call, May 14, 2021).
Konecny was also one of the Flyers who had to sit out due to contracting COVID-19 when the squad had multiple players get exposed to it. He got it in February, and only ended up playing three games that entire month.
Promising Future Ahead
When things return to normal for 2021-22 in the hockey world, I suspect Konecny will find his way back onto the stat sheet more often once again. Putting this campaign in the rearview mirror, the future for him is very bright. I do not think this season is a bad sign for his career down the road; I think it was an outlier in what will continue to be a great one. He is looked upon as one of a group of younger talents who will lead the team in the near future. A potential core may also include Farabee (21 years old), Morgan Frost (22), Ivan Provorov (24), Philippe Myers (24), and Carter Hart (22), among others. There isn’t a reason to think Konecny would not be included in that group himself, especially given the commitment the organization has already shown him. This season should not dissuade them of anything they thought of him before.
The Flyers definitely have roster decisions and moves they need to make, but most of the younger talent including Konecny should remain. They can continue to grow together and potentially gain more chemistry based on longevity on the squad. It will be interesting to see the direction general manager Chuck Fletcher and the rest of the staff take once the 2020-21 hockey year as a whole is over. There is some work to do for all of the players and management going forward. I think Konecny will take care of his share of business and will have a solid bounce-back season in 2021-22.