When Travis Konecny last made the All-Star Game in the 2019-20 season, he was a 22-year-old already in his fourth NHL season with the Flyers. It was easily his breakout season, one that saw him match a career-high with 22 goals and register 61 points in 66 games, easily shattering his previous career mark.
There was a case to be made that Konecny could have represented the Flyers last season at the All-Star Game, in the midst of setting a new career-high in goals with 31 and reaching 61 points again, this time in 60 games.
Through 50 games this season, Konecny is on pace to set near career marks once again, with 22 goals and 42 points. But his greater contribution, outside of leading the team in points, has been what he has become within the Flyers locker room.
At the time of Konecny’s first All-Star Game appearance, the roster still featured the likes of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, and a host of other long-time NHL veterans. Konecny was still one of the new kids on the block, one of seven players on that roster age 22 and under.
Four years later, Konecny still falls in the middle of the roster in terms of age. But by experience – Konecny is in his eighth NHL season – there are just seven players on the roster who have been in the league longer.
For a rebuilding team, that makes Konecny a leader.
One thing Konecny does well is play to his identity. He’s a pest, an absolute menace to go against on the ice, but also possesses plenty of skill to consistently be an offensive threat. Under John Tortorella, it appears his game has blossomed to a new level. The two seasons played under Tortorella will likely prove to be his most successful offensively.
Another decision by Tortorella has made Konecny even more of a valuable piece. Konecny was never a penalty killer before Tortorella arrived. In two seasons, Konecny has eight shorthanded goals and 11 shorthanded points.
At 26, Konecny also falls right into the age where the path ahead forks into two roads. He’s still only 26, and considering the numbers of the last two seasons, he’s a player that offers a tremendous amount of value. Having a two-time All-Star who consistently scores 30-plus goals, 60-plus points, plays with an edge, offers leadership, and can play in all situations is something worth building around.
But Konecny also offers value that arguably no other Flyer can to other teams. As the Flyers rebuild, they simply don’t have many blue-chip players on the active roster that could demand a significant package in return. Konecny has one year remaining on his contract with a $5.5 million cap hit beyond this season.
It means a tough decision is ahead for GM Danny Briere on Konecny’s future. Konecny was brought up under the previously leadership regime, been through the challenges of the last four seasons, embraced being a leader today in the wake of a public rebuild, and now he could be a catalyst for how the Flyers get out of it and back into contention.
It’s just a question of whether or not that’s with him still wearing the Orange and Black.