The Philadelphia Flyers are in a rebuild or retool or whatever you want to call it. Over the past two years, they have turned former stars like Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov into assets that will, hopefully, be a large part of the team’s future. They have made, what seems to be great draft pick selections in Cutter Gauthier, Matvei Michkov, and others.
However, the Flyers rebuild is going a little quicker than expected. The team is playing well and responding to John Tortorella’s style of play. The success of the team so far this season has put the coach, as well as team management, in several roster conundrums. After all, do you play Egor Zamula, who struggles sometimes, being a younger player, or play an older, steady vet like Marc Staal? What’s best for the team’s future? Or, do you try to make the playoffs in order to give a young, growing team some playoff experience?
All of this brings us to Travis Konency. He has just one year left on a super team friendly contract that is currently paying him 5.5 million. He will turn 27 at the end of March. You can assume that he will want a much larger contract and probably desires one that will take him at least seven years into the future. After all, Sean Couturier has another six years on his contract. Players of his caliber are easily pulling in 8-11 million a year.
Under Tortorella, Konecny has thrived. While his growth stagnated under former head coach Alain Vigneault, he is flourishing and connecting with Torts. He topped the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career and tied a career high with 61 points last season. This season, he is on fire. He has 14 goals in 26 games. As of right now, that places him in a tie for ninth with players like J.T. Miller and Chris Krieder. In AV’s last season, Konecny had just 16 goals in 79 games. His 31 goal total of last year is more than he scored (27) in the two years of AV coaching him combined. He is on pace, barring any injuries to score around 45 goals this season. If he does break the 40 goal plateau, he’d be the first Flyer to do so since Jeff Carter in 2008-09. If he tops 50, he’d be the first Flyer to do so since John LeClair in 1997-98. That’s talent that you don’t want to lose.
So, what should the Flyers do with him? Either you begin talks on an extension to keep him here long term or you trade him. The Flyers have offered long term contracts before to players. Carter, Couturier, Giroux, and Mike Richards all received contracts that were over seven years in length. Sometimes those contracts worked for the team. Kevin Hayes also signed a seven year deal and that didn’t work out as well.
You could also trade him. If a 34 year old Giroux returned Owen Tippett and a first rounder, imagine what a 27 or 28 year old Konency could bring in. He could, theoretically, bring in multiple first rounders. Of course, if we are just speculating here, a devastating injury could totally destroy any chance to cash in on him. The return then would be minimal.
First of all, I think you need to ask Konency, honestly, what he wants. Does he want to be traded to a contender or does he want to build a contender here? He seems to be having a lot of fun here and clicks with Tortorella. They get each other. He’s a good team leader and plays the way Torts wants. That is translating into great offensive numbers.
To be honest, I think it would be great to see him playing alongside Gauthier, Michkov, Tippett, Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, and others until the end of the decade. He could be the veteran guy that these guys need to flourish and evolve with. He’s had his ups and downs. He’s learned and grown. Young offensive stars need someone like that.
At the same time, we can’t be financially crippled by a contract either. If he wants a contract that will put him in the 12-15 million range, the Flyers could end up crippling their ability to retain young stars or get other talent needed to bolster the lineup. If that is the case, trading him to another team would be the best option for Daniel Briere.
Konecny has become Philly’s go to guy right now. That’s not easily replaceable. Sure, you can cash in and maybe bring in a haul. However, prospects don’t always pan out like you hope. We know what we have with Konency. It might be worth holding onto him for the long term.