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Travis Konecny is showing signs of a breakout campaign

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If the Flyers are going to go anywhere this year, they were going to need their young guys to take that proverbial next step. Outside of some bad puck luck, Travis Konecny looks to be taking that next step.

Colorado Avalanche v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There’s been a lot of vitriol – maybe apathy, even more so – toward the Flyers this year, so I wanted to take some time to focus on a positive so far this season. When the Flyers have (inevitably) started out slow over the past four seasons, we as fans have generally turned to the young players for a silver lining. With as much emphasis as GM Ron Hextall has placed on drafting and development, how could we not?

So each year we find ourselves wondering if this will be the year one of the young phenoms breaks out of his cocoon and turns into a skilled and productive butterfly. Through the first 14 games of his third year in the NHL, Travis Konecny sure seems to be trending that way.

Let’s first take a look at how Travis Konecny fared in his first 14 games last season by way of on-ice numbers as well as individual scoring rates. (All numbers in this piece courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and are score- and venue-adjusted unless noted otherwise.)

Travis Konecny, 2017-18: First 14 Games

CF% CF% Rel GF% GF% Rel SCF% SCF% Rel HDCF% HDCF% Rel HDGF% HDGF% Rel G/60 A/60 P/60
CF% CF% Rel GF% GF% Rel SCF% SCF% Rel HDCF% HDCF% Rel HDGF% HDGF% Rel G/60 A/60 P/60
45.14 -5.08 55.81 3.11 42.02 -7.24 41.26 -10.38 50.11 -7.49 0.75 0.37 1.12

Now, linemates can obviously play a role here. Konecny played many of his minutes to start the season with a then struggling rookie Nolan Patrick and our good pal Farmer in the Dale Weise. Still, the numbers aren’t great.

He really didn’t start to turn it on until he was promoted to the top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier on December 23. From there, his numbers started to take off:

Travis Konecny, 2017-18: Final 46 Games

CF% CF% Rel GF% GF% Rel SCF% SCF% Rel HDCF% HDCF% Rel HDGF% HDGF% Rel G/60 A/60 P/60
CF% CF% Rel GF% GF% Rel SCF% SCF% Rel HDCF% HDCF% Rel HDGF% HDGF% Rel G/60 A/60 P/60
50.52 0.15 61.25 14.97 50.09 1.87 55.55 6.67 62.07 20.78 1.22 1.04 2.26

It’s from this sample that I would like to compare his numbers this year, as we’d like to know if he is maintaining or even improving upon his strong second half of the season to start the 2018-19 campaign. As you’ll see below, Konecny is doing quite well in all but one area:

Travis Konecny, 2018-19

CF% CF% Rel GF% GF% Rel SCF% SCF% Rel HDCF% HDCF% Rel HDGF% HDGF% Rel G/60 A/60 P/60
CF% CF% Rel GF% GF% Rel SCF% SCF% Rel HDCF% HDCF% Rel HDGF% HDGF% Rel G/60 A/60 P/60
57.87 11.49 67.52 23.2 61.46 13.64 56.86 7.78 88.75 47.66 0.34 1.37 1.71

What really got Konecny going in the second half of last season was the ability of he and his linemates to get to the high danger areas of the ice and then convert on those opportunities. He grew leaps and bounds in all areas once promoted to the top line, but he was only still breaking even or going just above break-even in CF% and SCF%.

This year, Konecny is having a much stronger year in the highlighted play-driving and scoring chance metrics. Obviously, we have to account for small sample size here, but this is still encouraging nonetheless given how much of an impact Konecny is expected to make on the team this season. Where he’s lagging behind to this point compared to his second half of last season is production, particularly in the goal scoring department. Konecny is showing some improvement in terms of assists thus far, but his goal scoring at 5-on-5 is way down, even compared to how he started last season.

At this point – again, small sample size – I think it’s fair to attribute some of Konecny’s finishing struggles to bad luck. It seems like he hits at least one post a game and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was among the league leaders in that category. But if he continues to put up the underlying numbers he has to this point, I would think it’s fair to assume more pucks will start hitting the back of the net for him.

The Flyers have been tough to watch to start this season and it doesn’t help that some key guys haven’t quite found their game yet. Sean Couturier is still trying to round himself into form after missing all of training camp. Jake Voracek, outside of a few big games, hasn’t been himself. One of the few bright spots thus far has been the play of Travis Konecny and hopefully his production will soon catch up to his fantastic underlying metrics.