He played in only 60 games this year; the fewest of his career if you take out the COVID shortened season of 2020-21. He starred on a team that was 29th in goals scored and 32nd in power play goals. The Philadelphia Flyers had a new coach with a “grumpy reputation“. And yet, Travis Konecny had his best year statistically, despite the injuries and challenges he faced this year. Is this a fluke or is this the start of something great?
What makes this past season more shocking is that Konency did not have the best relationship with former Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault. Big V had healthy scratched him a few times and called him out for a lackluster playoff performance in 2020.
His performance in Vigneault’s last year and a half showed the result of this broken relationship. In the first three games of the 2021-22 season, Konecny scored a goal in each of the first three games. He scored only two more goals until AV was fired in December. He scored 11 goals after the fact; the total he scored the year before with Vigneault at the helm.
There was some concern with John Tortorella being hired that Konecny would revert back to not doing well. He started off the new season hot with four goals and six points in the first four games. Then he cooled off. Then he got benched in the third period of a game against the San Jose Sharks, along with Kevin Hayes, where the team seemed to play kind of lazy.
Whereas Hayes struggled at times afterwards, Konecny rebounded. He had five assists over the next four games. Then he got hurt. When he came back in December, he was lights-out. He had a hat trick against the Capitals and was one of the top goal scorers in the league. Then he cooled off again and got hurt again.
Despite the streaks and the injuries, Konecny had his first 30 goal season and his first 60 point season. Had he played a full season, it’s not unreasonable to think he could have cracked the 40 goal plateau and had at least 80 points. There is something there with him and Tortorella where he was able to unlock his skills and become the scoring threat that everyone envisioned he’d become. Instead of being upset at being benched, he used that to push himself and be the best he could be.
With other younger Flyers finding success this year, such as Owen Tippett, Morgan Frost, and Noah Cates, it’s easy to see that this team is being built around Konecny. Konecny fits the system that Torts is putting into place. And the pieces around him responded well to both the system and to Konecny’s leadership and abilities.
If ALL of the guys on this team can build on the success that they’ve built this year, they can be even more successful next year and the years following. Konecny is beginning his Flyers journey now. He’s a different kind of leader on the team than Sean Couturier. He could end up being the “go-to” guy like Wayne Simmonds was.
All I know is I am grabbing my popcorn and watching. Konecny is just 26 and has a bright future in front of him. With luck, he’ll be producing for the next decade wearing Orange and Black.