Travis Konecny’s Last Chance

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.

He did have a slight rebound late in the 2021-22 campaign when he finished with 16 goals and 52 points. That was technically good enough for the team lead in points at season’s end, but that’s because they traded Claude Giroux at the deadline and Cam Atkinson who was the runner-up in points with 50 missed the last nine games of the season, allowing Konecny to pass him. So despite the first place finish, the unsteadiness and lack of overall confidence was palpable.

52 points also isn’t anything to write home about as a top scorer. 30 of 31 other NHL team’s top scorer recorded more than Konecny.

Even though he had a career year in 2019-20, it has so far been an outlier in Konecny’s NHL run. It was the only time he broke the 60-point plateau, and the first of two times he broke 50 points. Posting three consecutive 24-goal seasons and hovering just below 50 points is nothing to turn your nose up at, but it’s not quite star-level or production either.

The problem is he’s never been able to reach that point again. He’s so frustratingly average, and entering year seven of his career, he no longer has the benefit of the doubt of developing any further. At 25 years old with 428 games under his belt; Konecny is what he is.

You can also thank Chuck Fletcher for leaving Konency out to dry by refusing to add any outside talent during the 2022 offseason to potentially elevate his game back to an acceptable level. Instead, this season he will have to be fighting off a wave of players coming to take his job.

With an abundance of young up-and-comers expected to slot in at right wing this season and in the future, Konecny having barely passable seasons will no longer cut it. Owen Tippett, Wade Allison, Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink will all be breathing down his neck for ice time, and if one or two of them show serious potential during the 2022-23 season, it just pushes Konecny to further irrelevancy.

His play will also be put under the microscope with new head coach John Tortorella around. The hot-and-cold nature of his play as well as his childish antics feel as though he could struggle to see eye-to-eye with his new head coach.

Teeks will more than likely be the opening night top line right wing, but it’ll be up to him whether or not he stays there. Can he play well enough to fend off the kids? Can he find his way in new head coach John Tortorella’s system?

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 once again 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.

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By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

Photo credit: sportingnews.com

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