While Travis Konecny is an RFA and due for a new contract before the start of the 2019-20 season, it's important to take a look at what our expectations should be for him heading into October.
After analyzing his potential contract, Konecny and his performance since starting his professional career lingered on my mind for quite some time. He's been a key player in crucial moments but has also fallen short and we honestly never know which version of him the Flyers will get.
Konecny is just one of the many pieces in the young core who need to own their role, and while all of them finding their stride is a key factor to a possible postseason run, T.K. may be the most crucial.
Time to step up
The 22-year-old is entering his fourth season as a pro - the training wheels need to come off and it's time for a level of productivity like we've never seen before. This can simply start with Konecny becoming his own player and not being as reliant on who he shares a line with.
Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier are two players who can elevate anyone on their line, which has a direct affect on Konecny's stats. With it being far too early to predict possible lines, there is always a chance that he isn't alongside two of the best forwards in the league.
The biggest factor in all of this is if it will knock his confidence or be a booster to advance his play even further. My hope is the latter.
A big step was needed in 2018-19 production-wise but 49 points just was not enough - only two assists separate these numbers from his in 2017-18.
Accuracy ... and lack thereof
There's no denying that Konecny can find his way to the net. He had the fourth-most shot attempts on the team with 182, behind only Giroux (229), Couturier (223) and Jakub Voracek (210).
The issue, however, was the level of inaccuracy and the absurd amount of times the puck found the post instead of the back of the net. He ended his season with 24 goals but if he straightened out his shot, he would've easily had 30-plus goals. On the surface, a few goals wouldn't seem like a big deal but considering Couturier was the only player who reached the 30-goal mark? It would have improved the offense quietly but effectively.
There is no one else in the league like Wayne Simmonds and filling that gap in the roster and locker room is going to be tough. The team lost a leader, an enforcer and while there are many players stepping up in a leadership aspect, the Flyers are well beyond the bully days that once branded the franchise. With trading Radko Gudas in the offseason, the lack of physicality is shining very clearly through the current roster.
Konecny is a chirper, he is able to get under the skin of anyone he is matched up against but most importantly, he sticks up for anyone who may need backup. It's been seen time and time again, if Simmonds or Gudas was not on the ice, Konecny would come to defend one of his teammates without hesitation.
There is the possibility of defenseman Samuel Morin making the roster but with that uncertainty comes an open opportunity for Konecny. Even though he's one of the smaller builds on the roster at 5-foot-10, he can pack a punch.
Missing puzzle piece
This is the year we need to see just why Konecny was the 24th overall pick in his draft class back in 2015. He needs to drive play, become an asset rather than a filler on the power play, remain a force to be reckoned with - and do it consistently.
Is it asking a lot to expect this all from him at the start of this season? Honestly, no. We have seen time after time that he is capable of doing such things but it's time he puts it all together. Plus, that new contract of his will come in to play as well - he'll need to bring his A-game with a bridge deal to earn a high-value, long-term contract, or prove that he is worth the big bucks right out of the gate of being an RFA.
It's a big year for everyone repping the orange and black, but all eyes should certainly look to Mr. Chirper himself and his possible career-best season ahead.
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