The 2023 NHL offseason is still a few months away, but there are some early storylines worth following in Philadelphia Flyers’ lore, and none may be more interesting than the fate of Travis Konecny and what the Flyers choose to do with their breakout forward. Some really want to keep the fan-favorite forward while others have theorized that trading the soon-to-be 26-year-old forward could be the best move for the franchise long-term.
No options should be completely off the table for the Flyers, so let’s explore the pros and cons of trading Travis Konecny.
Capitalize on a career season
Konecny’s name has popped up in the rumor mill the last few summers, but ultimately nothing became of it. If there is still a willingness to scope out the market, maybe it’s best they waited for his value to be at its peak rather than the last few years when he struggled to produce. Getting the most for an important trade chip doesn’t feel like a typical Chuck Fletcher-ism but maybe waiting ended up being the right play for maximum return.
Depth at RW
You can’t really call the Flyers a “deep” team these days, with the exception of the right wing position. Thanks to the emergence of Owen Tippett and Wade Allison, top prospect Tyson Foerster, the dynamic position swapping of Joel Farabee and veteran Cam Atkinson still under contract for another season, the RW slot is on good hands without Konecny. Dealing him for draft assets or a player to fill another hole on the roster could make sense without forcing the rest of the roster to bend around the move.
Continue to shift away from the vet core
The Flyers have been born anew with Claude Giroux and friends finally removed from the roster and fresh faces like Owen Tippett and Noah Cates paving the way for the future of the franchise. Travis Konecny is in his seventh NHL season and just as guilty as anybody for the rocky road the franchise has been on over the last handful of years. Continuing to flush out the past in favor of a brighter future has seemingly worked well so far, and Konecny could very well be next on the list.
He’s currently the top forward
After seven seasons, Konecny has finally established himself as one of the top forwards on the team. He’s already tied his career high in goals with 24 and sits at 49 points in 45 games at the All-Star break. This level of production is by far the outlier of his career and cannot be assumed he can replicate again, but considering the current state of the roster, he’s been their de facto top forward anyway due to Fletcher’s unwillingness to add talent to the lineup. Is this the real version of TK? Or does he fall back to just a guy status in the future?
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.
Fans are going to be mad
Even when the franchise has been in the toilet for the last decade or so, fans still get way too attached to the players and there’s not a better example of that than Konecny. It’s no secret the Flyers’ front office isn’t exactly a popular bunch of people these days, and their 2022 offseason where they bought out fan favorite cancer survivor Oskar Lindblom and replaced him with Tony DeAngelo as well as passing on Gaudreau left a pretty bitter taste in the mouths of the fans. If they go into the 2023 offseason and get rid of Konecny, especially for a return that doesn’t have instant rewards, it could be the breaking point for many.
At the end of the day, whether or not the Flyers deal Konecny simply boils down to the franchise’s goal for next season. Are they going to go into the 2023 offseason and do whatever it takes to put a playoff team in the ice in 2024? Or are they going to go in and be easily dissuaded from adding talent and run it back yet again knowing this roster isn’t good enough to crack the postseason?
If they’re not going to be competitive, they may as well trade the guy for a king’s ransom capitalizing on his breakout season. An over-point-per-game player that also brings the gritty edge locked in for two more seasons at a $5.5 million cap hit is going to entice teams across the league, and in that sense, he could very well be their best trade chip.
Selling high on vet players is a tactic that any successful rebuilding team deploys. Now, there’s the whole issue as to whether or not the Flyers are actually rebuilding (something they’ll never actually admit publicly) but if there are no internal concerns about looking outside the organization for improving the on-ice product for next season, moving Konecny for a cocktail of future assets is the best thing for the organization moving forward.
If there are actual moves made by the front office this summer to address holes in the roster in anticipation of making the playoffs next season, then things get more interesting. Given the lack of cap space the team is dealing with, they’re going to be limited in the free agent market, so trade is their best bet to acquire a player to fill a hole, and Teeks could bring a serious main roster piece back in a “hockey trade.” As noted above, the abundance of talent at right wing makes his absence easier to take.
On the flip side, if they’re going to be competitive, he could be a worthwhile piece to continue to build around, but if that’s the case, sacrifices will have to be made from elsewhere in the system to build around him. Is it smarter to give up on a few of their prospects than it is a veteran with a spotty track record?
Trading Konecny is a big call, even if it’s ultimately the right one, and the front office isn’t exactly known for rocking the boat when it comes time to pull the trigger on big decisions. At the end of the day, nobody on the roster should be safe from the trade block. There are going to be teams out there that could use a Swiss army knife like TK, and if there’s a deal where they are offered something that far exceeds the value he himself brings, they need to seriously consider it. Whether or not the Flyers are rebuilding, some moves are just smart business, and trading Konecny, despite how unpopular it may be, could prove to be just that- smart business.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com