There are still some names on the board that haven’t been signed this season. It wasn’t as big of a free agent class as what is expected next offseason and since teams are still trying to clear cap space for a potential Nazem Kadri signing, many will be disappointed and turn to Philadelphia as an option. A player that can fill any team’s top six is Travis Konecny, and with three years left on his deal at a price tag of $5.5 million, he will generate interest whether his name is put out there or not.
The Fourth Period wrote, “Philadelphia is open to moving him (Konecny) in a ‘hockey trade’ that will see talent move for talent, but the team does not appear interested in moving him for future assets.” That statement may apply for this offseason as the Flyers again hope to turn things around and make the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. If it is another disappointing season, prospects or high draft picks should very much be considered. It’s up for debate as to how long this game of making and missing the playoffs will be played before a rebuild or a significant change for the better is made.
Now let’s look at three teams that may have the want to acquire Konecny, a player they also may be looking to move in a “hockey trade,” or just the need for a top-six winger to help them compete.
The Calgary Flames appear to be holding onto as much hope as they can. They lost Johnny Gaudreau with no notice in free agency and were almost forced into trading Matthew Tkachuk. They did a solid job recovering from two blows that would have sent many teams into a spiral or rebuild. But at the end of the day, the team lost two top-line forwards and only gained one. There is an open spot in the top six and cap room to spare.
Konecny would be the type of player that head coach Darryl Sutter would love playing for him. He has similar elements of what Tkachuk brought to the Flames with a combination of skill, grit, and peskiness. With the right players and built up confidence, Konecny could be a point-per-game player beside the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Elias Lindholm who both played at a point-per-game pace or better last season.
The Flames aren’t ready to go into rebuild mode, not after just winning the division. Next season will be big for them because the two impactful players they received back in the trade with the Florida Panthers are unrestricted free agents (UFA) next summer. The Flames will be able to have Konecny and keep the two UFAs if they are willing to re-sign with other contracts coming off of the books.
As long as the Flames have Jacob Markstrom, a Vezina-caliber goaltender, Andrew Mangiapane, who is willing to re-sign long-term, and players like Lindholm, Tyler Toffoli, Mikael Backlund, Noah Hanifin, and Rasmus Andersson all signed for at least two more seasons, Konecny’s contract would fit right into that window to help them stay relevant and compete. There aren’t a ton of options out there to add to the Flames’ top-six forward group to replace some of what they lost. This trade would be best executed before the 2022-23 season starts and would see a younger return since the Flames are also desperately trying to be a contender.
The Seattle Kraken have been collecting top- to middle-six wingers who, as a whole, could form a very underrated team. They don’t have any superstars yet, but the future is hopeful for Matty Beniers and Shane Wright. As for now, while they develop in the NHL and get used to the pace of the game, the team has filled their roster with forwards earning around $5 million per season.
Names like Jordan Eberle, Jaden Schwartz, Andre Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Yanni Gourde, Jared McCann, and Alex Wennberg all fit into that category. Last season didn’t go as planned for the Kraken, but it wasn’t to the fault of the offense that had the least expectations of the three positions. Burakovsky and Bjorkstrand were just acquired and McCann was just re-signed, so none of them are going anywhere. As for the rest, Eberle and Wennberg each have two years remaining and may be on the move before their contracts are up while Joonas Donksoi is earning $3.9 million and has one year left on his deal.
Eberle is getting up there in age and is becoming less efficient while the Kraken took a chance on Wennberg and overpaid to fill a need in year one of their existence. Now the team has better options and has brought in some better talent. I’m not saying the Kraken and Flyers will be a good fit for a “hockey trade” looking at the Kraken right now, but something could change in one season. Nevertheless, Konecny has a style to his game that Seattle seems to admire in their players and he could fit right in. These teams won’t deal this offseason, but there is a better possibility next offseason when players are easier to move.
The Florida Panthers relied on more than their top six for offense last season as they scored the most goals as a team by a wide margin and won the Presidents’ Trophy. They lost a 115-point scorer in Huberdeau who also had excellent chemistry with a number of the players. The team also lost Mason Marchement who had a very under the radar offensive season for the Panthers on their third line.
The depth of the Panthers at forward looks much weaker heading into next season while the defense only got worse as well. Both need to be addressed and the Panthers could do well with trading for a player like Konecny sooner than later, though it may be in their best interest to add him close to the trade deadline or next offseason. Patric Hornqvist’s contract ($5.3 million) is very similar in value to Konecny’s contract and Hornqvist is off the books after next season. Having a player like Konecny with the offensive capabilities and gritty game can be very beneficial in the middle six of the Panthers’ lineup as they look to stay on top and push further into the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Kings were a team with interest in Konecny, but after acquiring Kevin Fiala and having a very solid top six, they should be set with prospects coming as well. More teams are sure to appear on the Flyers’ radar with interest, but these three stand out and make sense right now.