With the trade of Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers have entered a new era without its long-time captain no longer on the roster. The 2021-22 season has been as much of a mess as last year’s team and it is uncertain who will be moved by general manager (GM) Chuck Fletcher during the offseason. Besides Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, and Joel Farabee, every other player’s long-term future with the Flyers is in question.
Besides Giroux, the team’s top offensive player, Cam Atkinson, has not been quite as productive since the trade of the former Flyers captain and will be out for the rest of the season with a lower-body injury he sustained during a game versus the Washington Capitals on April 12. Travis Konecny has been inconsistent but has emerged as one of the team’s best players offensively since the trade deadline. Let’s take a look at his increased production for the Flyers since the deadline.
Konecny is Having One of His Best Seasons in 2021-22
Konecny has the second-most points of his six-year career and has been one of the Flyers’ top offensive players this year as he will finish with the most points on the Flyers for the second time in three seasons. He has been one of the more durable players in a year where several significant players have missed time due to injury, illness, or being placed on the COVID-19 inactive list. He struggled during 2020-21 and had issues with his conditioning during the shortened season but has improved his play despite a consecutive disappointing season this year for the franchise. He has the highest individual point percentage (IPP) on the Flyers among active players on the roster. A player’s IPP is how often a player earns a point when a goal is scored when he is on the ice.
The 25-year-old forward is on pace to tie or surpass his career-high in assists that he set during 2019-20. His goal total is lower than in previous seasons despite leading the Flyers in shots. Konecny’s total individual expected goals (ixG) is second on the Flyers as he has generated many offensive chances due to how high his IPP is.
Over the last several games, Konecny has gotten a few chances per contest as his linemates have done a good job of passing him the puck when the right-winger is skating at a high speed heading into the offensive zone. He has renewed confidence in recent games and has gone through offensive slumps this year. Previously in March, during an offensive drought, he commented on his tendency to pass the puck, “When you’re feeling good, feeling like you’re hot, you’re getting a lot of puck luck, you might just have the tendency to shoot the puck a little bit more with that confidence. I’m trying to get to that shot-first mentality.”
Konecny has six goals and seven assists in the last 16 games since the trade deadline. Based on his production in previous years, it appears he is in the midst of a hot streak. Based on advanced statistics, he has done well when he had fewer shots toward the net per game such as during the 2019-20 year.
His shot attempts, which consist of goals, shots, and missed shots, at even strength, were the highest this season as of February during his six-year career. In comparison, his shooting percentage, the percentage of shots taken by a player that ends up as goals, was the lowest since his rookie season this year as of February also. Konecny may feel more pressure to take more shots to create offense for a team that has struggled to score goals this year and last season.
In the Flyers’ game on April 24 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, he tied with Noah Cates for the most shots on goal and he has continued to be a top contributor for Philadelphia since the February piece. Konecny has had many games this season in which he did not finish with many shots on goal but still finished with either a goal or an assist. His 35 assists prove that he is not relying on only goal-scoring to contribute offensively for the Flyers.
Is Konecny a Trade Candidate This Offseason?
Due to the aggressive retool Fletcher referenced that the Flyers will undergo this summer, Konecny’s name has surfaced as a potential trade candidate. After the season, he has three more years remaining on his contract before he will be a free agent. Having multiple years remaining on a contract is what general managers prefer to trade for as opposed to a deal such as James van Riemsdyk’s in which he only has one more season after 2021-22 before he will be a free agent.
Due to the majority of the player contracts having multiple years remaining, it is difficult to determine which members of the Flyers roster will be traded during the offseason. Given that Fletcher believes the club can compete for a playoff spot if the Flyers have better fortune with health next season, a retool may imply trading players in their primes for some other players that are around the same age that may need a change of scenery. A retool also references trading younger players for more experienced players to have a better chance at competing for a postseason spot in 2022-23.
Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic believes the retool will be difficult to achieve given all the necessary parts that need to work on including Hayes, Couturier, and Ellis all remaining healthy next year, adding two excellent players during the summer, two or more players under 25 years of age progressing to the point where they are considered top players on the Flyers, a much-improved coaching staff, a new leader emerges in the organization, and remaining cap compliant while not weakening a position on the roster in order to strengthen another spot (from ‘Why Flyers’ promised “aggressive retool” is shaping up to be a near-impossible task,” The Athletic, 4/18/22).
Given what a retool will entail, it is unlikely Konecny will be moved during the offseason since he has been one of the Flyers’ best offensive players in 2021-22. He looks like he can be one of the team’s top complementary players or a borderline core player. Unless a GM wants him in exchange for a top player, which is possible, it is likely he will return to the Flyers next season.
The Flyers are entering an offseason in transition in which Giroux is no longer on the team after over a decade of being a leader for Philadelphia. Konecny can be a top player on the Flyers as he will be the leader in points for the second time in the last three seasons. While many of the other core players missed time with injuries this season, his production remains worth taking notice of when considering the best players on the Flyers this summer. He is entering the prime of his career at 25 years old and has been relatively durable during his six-year career.
Konecny looks like a player that can be inserted on either the first or second line and has spent time playing with Scott Laughton this year due to the season-ending injury to Couturier that limited him to 29 games in 2021-22. Despite his inconsistent play at times that prevents him from being a top-two player on the Flyers, Konecny still has a significant role that will make him a part of the next era for Philadelphia post-Giroux.