Why Time on Ice is a Terrible Negotiating Piece for the Flyers

We all thought we were done with Dave Hakstol’s player usage plaguing this team, didn’t we?

New information put out by Bob McKenzie of TSN suggests that a major holdup in Travis Konecny’s contract negotiations is due to a relative lack of average time on ice (TOI) compared to other marquee players on the roster.

Before I demolish the team in writing, I will acknowledge that Travis Konecny has certainly had his struggles defensively, and also had trouble last year keeping his shots on net. TK could have easily cracked 30 goals last season had he converted even half of his shots that met steel instead of netting. Knowing how “hockey men” work, they will generally acknowledge defensive and positioning mistakes more than the offensive potential behind a player like Konecny, and keep him off the ice for it until these problems are rectified.

But therein lies the paradox of keeping a player off the ice because he’s making mistakes. He doesn’t get a chance to rectify his defensive and positional deficiencies without having actual TOI to work with. One could argue that time in the AHL can fix this, but the competition level simply isn’t the same.

Now, for the fun part.

Konecny’s average TOI over his three seasons in the NHL clock in at 14:05 for his rookie year, 14:54 for the second, and 15:16 in his third year. The Flyers are already splitting hairs on their “just under 15:00” argument.

Because Dave Hakstol was extremely reluctant to give Konecny better minutes due to defensive miscues and his apparent love for over-the-hill veterans and stopgaps, TK often shared the ice with the likes of Valtteri Filppula, Jori Lehtera, Dale Weise, Jordan Weal, and Michal Raffl when he wasn’t paired with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. Essentially, Hakstol wasn’t doing him any favors when he was off the top line, punished for being occasionally out of position (aka developing and adapting to the NHL).

Despite being held back by multiple external factors, Konecny managed to pot 24 goals in two consecutive seasons. One also must consider TK playing with a group of largely inferior players that are no longer with the team, sans Raffl both in terms of talent and current status with the team. TK also spent a good deal of time playing on the Flyers’ infamous and ineffective PP2 unit, which in 2017-18 also saw normal appearances from… get ready…

Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, and Jori Lehtera.

The Flyers making the case that TK hasn’t had a ton of ice time should really be something that backfires on them. TK has had a number of setbacks from previous coaching and still managed to be one of the top goal scorers on the team. It also makes the organization look ridiculous, using the TOI stemming from a coach that the organization deemed unfit and fired last year. The Flyers would be wise to avoid a William Nylander-esque situation this year, and just sign the kid who will likely play as a top line winger.

I’m also going to laugh (much like the GIF above) when players like Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom are free agents and run into a similar TOI argument next year. Be smart, Flyers. Please.

-Brian Adams (@Wx_Adams)

Photo Creds: Courier Post, The Globe and Mail

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