Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny has been a polarizing figure since he showed up on the scene in 2016, simultaneously 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.” There are very few things that throw Flyers’ social media into disarray like the idea of trading the 24-year-old. 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, but through individual struggle and the team at a serious crossroads, the fate of Travis Konecny seems anything but certain.
One of the most valuable trade pieces
Typically when the notion of Travis Konecny getting dealt out of Philly emerges, it’s met with “so you think he’s a bad player” but the answer is quite contrary. Attaching TK’s name to deals for top players doesn’t mean he’s a worthless throw-in piece, it means he’s probably the crown jewel going back the other way. For the most part the Flyers lack true trade pieces in terms of actual roster value.For a team that could be looking to tear down and start again, Konecny could land them a first round pick in one of the stacked upcoming drafts for a player that could be better than TK ever could.
He’s just a dude
While it’s hard to file Konecny under the “expendable” category, his presence on the team doesn’t seem to be life or death. 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.
He had a mediocre 16 goals and 52 points during the 2021-22 season, a season which featured a 20-game goalless drought from November 20 to January 15. He did finish the season hot, but five goals through the first 35 games of the season is flat out unacceptable for someone who is supposedly a top goalscorer.
His lackluster playoffs
Some players rise to the occasion in the postseason, and other disappear once the going gets tough. Unfortunately, Konecny seems to be the latter. He’s recorded just one goal and eight points in 22 playoff games. Now, he’s far from the only culprit when it comes to struggling during the playoffs, but he’s one of the guys who should be leading the charge, especially when he led the team in points during the 2020 regular season. If he ultimately doesn’t show up when it matters most, maybe getting that energy out of the room is the best step for success moving forward.
Depth at wing
One of the few things the Flyers have in copious amount is depth at the wing. With the emergence of Joel Farabee, and the seemingly limitless budding of rookies Wade Allison, Bobby Brink, Owen Tippett as well as up-and-coming players Tyson Foerster and Zayde Wisdom, the Flyers already have young replacements on the roster and more coming in the near future. Chances are at least two of those players will be able to replicate 16-goal, 52-point production next season. His potential replacement may already be on the roster.
Has he reached his peak?
Before the disaster of the season that 2020-21 turned into, Konency was slowly but surely developing into a semi-consistent offensive threat. His 24 goals and 61 points in 2019-20 were not only a personal best but lead the team in both categories. How much further could he have pushed things if the last 13 games of the season been played? The thing is, that year has been the outlier so far, as he only broke the 50-point plateau for the second time in his career in 2021-22. Even though he’s 25 years old, he is entering his seventh NHL season, and relying on his potential to develop further is harder and harder to hold on to. You’d be taking an inherent risk moving a player of his age and skill, but maybe we’ve seen the peak of what Konecny has to offer.
Potential of losing a trade
If there’s one thing Flyers fans love to do, it’s look back at player movement and dwell in the past. We’ll hear about players like Shayne Gostisbehere, Ryan Hartman and Nicolas Aube-Kubel until the end of their careers, as long as the narrative is convenient, that is. Anytime you’re concocting a trade big enough to throw in a player like Konecny in return, there’s always the possibility that things don’t turn out great. It’s Hextall 101 to be terrified of making trades with the fear of possibly losing the deal at the end of the day.
Konecny may not be a fighter or old school grinder, but he sure knows how to get under opponent’s skin with his creative vocabulary. Fans got an inside look at that during the 2019 “Wired” series when he dropped his now famous lines “eat up, bud” and Karma’s a bitch, eh?” While he’s not great at putting his money where his mouth is, the role or agitator isn’t worthless in the game of hockey.
It’s no secret that Travis Konecny is a fan favorite to the Flyers’ faithful and the natural pushback when his name is thrown around is trade scenarios is expected. Though if they removed their rose-colored glasses and assessed Konecny honestly, it’s fair to put Teeks in the good-not-great category. It’s not impossible to believe he has more in the tank or could reach another level in the proper scenario, but it’s also becoming less and less likely there’s legitimate superstar potential within. Even pro-rating his points during the two pandemic-effected seasons doesn’t paint a picture of a truly elite level forward. He shouldn’t be given up in a trade easily, but clinging on to something that just may not be there isn’t going to help the Flyers progress either.
The Flyers need to take a hard look in the mirror. Something from within is clearly broken, and players like Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Kevin Hayes and Scott Laughton are the current core of this team. There’s no more Claude Giroux to hide behind. If the players simply aren’t good enough, or their ability to lead a younger locker room isn’t up to snuff, it may just be time to move on. Six seasons is plenty long enough to play for an organization, quite frankly too long for the Flyers, who love to show blind allegiance to their long-tenured players. He may be a fan favorite, but at the end of the day, the team will look and produce virtually identically without Konecny in the future.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com