The Philadelphia Flyers announced a six-year, $33 million contract extension with Travis Konecny on Monday afternoon. It was a long time coming for Konecny, who waited all summer — and then a few days into training camp — for his next deal. Konecny didn’t want to settle for a short-term bridge deal, rather choosing a long-term contract to keep him in Philadelphia for the next six years.
Chuck Fletcher did well in signing Ivan Provorov to a six-year deal on Friday, and followed it up with another team-friendly long-term contract with Konecny on Monday. Signing those two RFAs was the last item on his offseason to-do list, and it’s safe to say he did a great job with it.
Konecny, who the Flyers traded up to draft with the No. 24 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, broke into the NHL in 2016 after one more junior season in the Ontario Hockey League. He struggled in an up-and-down rookie season as he adjusted to the professional level. However, after just 28 points (in 70 games) in his rookie year, Konecny has taken off in his last two seasons.
The young winger has become one of the best goalscorers on the Flyers. He has hit a career-high 24 goals in back-to-back seasons, with the large majority of them coming during even-strength play. Only one of his 24 goals in the 2017-18 season came on the power play, and that continued last season with four power-play goals. In fact, 51 of Konecny’s 59 goals have come at even strength, including 20 of 24 last season. He also hit a career-high in assists (25) and points (49) last season, giving him quite the negotiating power this summer.
Konecny held strong into training camp, wanting a long-term deal, and the Flyers negotiated a team-friendly deal that both sides were happy with. And the Flyers could be very happy with it very shortly.
Not only has Konecny become one of the best goalscorers on the team, but he is also quickly becoming one of the best snipers in the league.
Konecny’s 20 even-strength goals were tied for the 54th-most in the NHL last season. He had one more than Giroux (T-61st) and trailed only Couturier (24, T-22nd) on the Flyers. The 54th-best scorer in the league essentially equates to being a top-line winger, and that is exactly what Konecny is for the Flyers.
He is more of a scorer than a playmaker or facilitator, but Konecny’s 21 even-strength assists gave him 41 even-strength points. Those 41 points were tied for 82nd-most in the NHL last season; so once again, a top-line caliber player. And that’s just last season.
Over the past two seasons, Konecny has scored 43 even-strength goals, as mentioned above. That places him tied for 31st most in the league with names like Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene and David Patrnak. That’s also more than Mitch Marner (43), who is getting paid almost double what Konecny is; but that’s none of my business.
(Note: Please don’t look at Marner’s 112 even-strength points vs. Konecny’s 85 over the past two seasons).
But seriously, Konecny being one of the top 31 even-strength goalscorers over the last two seasons is incredibly impressive. When you take into account his playing time, Konecny’s goals per 60 of 1.17 is tied for 17th-best in the NHL over the past two seasons among players with 2000+ TOI. His points per 60 of 2.31 is tied for 54th-best as well. is Yeah, that’s pretty good.
Only Giroux (2.88 P/60, 6th in NHL), Couturier (2.68, 18th) and Voracek (2.35, 50th) have higher points-per-60 rates than Konecny on the Flyers, and unsurprisingly, Konecny has the best goals-per-60 rate, with Couturier (1.07, T-35th) and Giroux (1.00, T-47th) trailing him.
The most impressive part of Konecny’s numbers is that he is still just 22 years old. Some players aren’t even in the NHL yet by age 22, and he is already one of the league’s best even-strength goalscorers.
Having the qualifier of “even-strength” in there may sour some people on Konecny, but that shouldn’t be the case. He hasn’t had a consistent power-play unit to work with, and even when he has, the Flyers’ man-advantage has simply been cursed. OK, not really, but when young, talented players joined the second unit last season, they couldn’t ever jel or find a rhythm. With another year under their belts and a new coaching staff, Konecny may be scoring on the power play like he is at even strength, and that should put the league on notice.
As Konecny has improved and come into his own, his role has increased with it. He was regularly in the top-six and on the top line last season alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Playing with great teammates is going to help any player, and Konecny returned the favor by proving himself and helping the Flyers in a big way.
Over the past two seasons, Konecny has played nearly 800 (799:45 to be exact) of his 2207 minutes with both Couturier and Giroux. They have been quite impressive together. The trio has a 57.41% corsi for, 56.76% expected goals for, and 62.20% goals for (51-31) with an offensive zone faceoff percentage of 45.39%
Giroux and Couturier have played 984 minutes without Konecny in the past two seasons. Their CF (55.32%), xGF (54.75%) and GF (56.36%) have all taken a slight hit in easier zone starts (50.74% offensive zone faceoffs).
Those numbers are even more pronounced if you look at just last year’s stats.
In 302 minutes together, the trio had an insane 61.11% CF, 54.62% xGF and 60% GF (18-12) in 50% offensive zone faceoffs. Giroux and Couturier played 381 minutes together without Konecny. They still had good numbers with a 55.35% CF and 55.12% xGF, but a 48.08% GF (25-27; which is bound to regress toward the xGF number) in 55.33% offensive zone faceoffs.
The trio has clicked and not only do they have the ability to score, but they are also fun to watch and the stats back up what you see on the ice.
With Konecny back in the fold, the Flyers are set up to have a formidable top line heading into the 2019-20 season and beyond. Giroux and Couturier are both under contract though the 2021-22 season, and now Konecny is locked up.
Not only is Konecny locked up, but it’s at a cap hit that the Flyers can be happy with. Evolve Wild projected that, if Konecny signed a six-year deal, it would carry a cap hit of $5.9 million. Konecny’s actual contract came at nearly half a million less than that and knowing Konecny’s trajectory, it’s an even better deal.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick