The new-look Philadelphia Flyers front office led by Keith Jones and Danny Briere already have their plates full as they enter the 2023 offseason. There are quite a few early storylines worth following as they get ready to make their mark on the organization, 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 trade 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 biggest return for an important trade chip doesn’t feel like a typical Flyer-ism, but for the rebuilding franchise, it’s the best time to make a deal for future assets.
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 prospects Tyson Foerster and Bobby Brink, the dynamic position swapping of Joel Farabee and veteran Cam Atkinson still under contract for another two seasons, the RW slot is in good hands without Konecny. Dealing him for draft assets or a player to fill another hole on the roster could make sense and they’ll only feel minimal impact at his position.
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 scored 31 goals, a new personal best, and tied his previous high of 61 points in just 60 games. 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 the organization’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. Danny Briere hasn’t been afraid to utter the phrase rebuild, but he’s also followed that up by saying that it won’t be a fire sale. Oxymoron aside, it doesn’t exactly paint a vivid picture when it comes to the status of the veteran players on the roster.
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. 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 Flyers moving forward.
What can they get in return? Well that comes down to how savvy Danny Briere can be. But considering the Flyers only have one pick in the first 70 selections in the upcoming 2023 entry draft, Konecny would be perfect bait to land an additional pick or two in the first couple of rounds. Better yet, an NHL ready youngster would be preferred.
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 cap space the team is dealing with, they’re going to be limited in the free agent market, so a 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 Konecny, and if there’s a deal where they are offered something that far exceeds the value that 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