Philaldephia Flyers forward Travis Konecny has been a polarizing figure since he showed up on the scene in 2016. Earning the love and ire of fans for his middle school-esque approach to the game with his funny faces and use of the word “nerd.” For the most part, he has always been able to back up his comedic approach to the game with plenty of production on the score sheet, though he has gone through a rough drought recently that has raised a few eyebrows.
Konecny has yet to have a “bad” season in the NHL per se, but he just hasn’t been the same player since the 2020 playoffs started. He went from career year during the 2019-20 regular season, posting 24 goals and 61 points in the pandemic-shortened 66 game year, to just 11 goals and 34 points in 55 games in 2021. That coming after recording zero goals and seven assists in the 2020 playoff bubble.
The Flyers rebuilt quite a bit of their roster during the offseason, and the forward group is pretty crowded, especially at right wing. The logjam on the wings is a good problem to have, but it’s also something that can’t go unaddressed forever. Between the cap crunch the Flyers are facing, and potential other holes popping up throughout the lineup, sacrificing the wealth on the wings is an easy way to fix potential issues elsewhere on the team as they spring up.
On the right side, the Flyers have the new guy Cam Atkinson, who has four years left on his contract, the young up-and-comer Wade Allison, who will look to capitalize on a hot first few NHL games this season, and Joel Farabee, who can play either wing, but seems to be more comfortable on the right side. The depth on the wings will put pressure on Konecny to succeed. If he doesn’t keep up with his teammates, he could find himself pushed down the depth chart, and at a $5.5 million cap hit, could be a trade option to address holes elsewhere in the lineup.
Even though he had a career year in 2019-20, it has so far been an outlier in Konecny’s career. It’s the only time he has broken the 50-point plateau in his career (though was on pace to flirt with it in 2021). When he was ascending through the NHL earlier in his career, posting three consecutive 24-goal seasons and sniffing 50 points in nothing to turn your nose up at, but it’s not quite star-level or production either.
To give Konecny the benefit of the doubt, he had some hurdles to overcome in 2021 that made his season hard to get through. He found out he was going to be a father for the first time, the lack of fans in the building, as he’s a player that feeds off the roar of the crowd, the general dissatisfactory state of the team last season, and, you know, the whole pandemic thing. It was also theorized on Brotherly Pod by Anthony SanFilippo that Nolan Patrick and his negative attitude may have rubbed off on Konecny, who was Patrick’s closest friend on the team.
Entering 2021-22, most of those problems will be gone. Konecny’s girlfriend gave birth during the offseason, the Wells Fargo Center will be back to capacity during the regular season, the team around him has improved, and Nolan Patrick was shipped across the country. It’s as close to a clean slate as Konecny can get.
Konecny’s fate is in his hands. Does he rise back to the top of the Flyers’ scoring list, or does he struggle to get out of the gate again? If he can bounce back to his normal self he’ll be a pivotal cog in the machine, if he stumbles, expect his name to potentially be on the chopping block for the remainder of the season. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though. Hopefully he’ll give us all a big plate of crow to munch on just so he can yell his classic “eat up, bud” catchphrase in our faces.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportingnews.com