Back in May, during my expectations series, I wrote the following on Travis Konecny:
There’s a lot to be excited about with Travis Konecny. He has exciting speed, great skill, and can use those abilities to produce spectacular goals. Even if he is unable to carry a line to success, he makes for a top rate piece to pair with a player who can. It is promising that TK has continued to show growth, and has even become a bit chippy. We will of course have to wait and see how AV utilizes TK, but I’m hopeful that the results will be positive.
Well, so far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive. Konecny has been the Flyers best offensive producer, and looks set to continue his strong form early on. While he looks significantly better from an eye test perspective, I wanted to look more closely at specifically, from an empirical and statistical perspective, just what Konecny is doing on the ice. So without further ado, let’s take a deeper dive into why we’ve seen Konecny break out.
He’s been generating a ton of shots on goal from high danger areas
Using individual event tracking data from Natural Stat Trick, I generated a chart with data from all of Travis Konecny’s shots on goal (that weren’t blocked or missed) and recorded from the tracking where those shots came from:
At even strength, Konecny is generating the majority of his shots from high danger areas in the slot and the circles. Of his six goals on the season, all of those at even strength have come from these areas. He has scored three goals from the slot and one from the circle at even strength, and his two power play goals came from the circles.
Roughly 77% of his shots are from these high danger areas at even strength, which speaks to why his high Expected Goals-For total of 7.39 is greater than his actual goals total. It means that based on the shots he is taking, he should have more results ending in goals, yet does not due to outside factors like the play of a goaltender.
Naturally, when you generate and take more chances from areas where goals are likely to be scored, you’ll score more! This is certainly the case for Konecny. Whether willingly or not, he is getting to the areas where goals are scored and producing. This can somewhat be helped by his line-mates, especially when they are excellent play drivers (Sean Couturier and Oskar Lindblom mainly). However, Konecny still needs to get there in order to score the goals, and he has certainly done that.
Konecny is driving play
Would you believe it if I told you that Konecny is the second best play-driving forward on the team at 5-on-5? I wouldn’t have, yet it’s true! Through ten games, Konecny has posted a 65.06% Corsi-For percentage, only trailing noted elite 1C Sean Couturier. It certainly surprised me when I was scrolling through the numbers to see Konecny that high on the list, but in many ways, it really is not that surprising.
From an eye test perspective, Konecny has been everywhere in the offensive zone. He is pushing play forward with his dynamic speed and ability to read plays. This translates to his statistical profile, where he is one of the top Flyer forwards in High Danger Corsi-For (HDCF%) with 60.47%. That’s higher than both Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux, and it shows that Konecny is driving play, both for himself and teammates, in getting to the areas on the ice where goals are scored.
Sure, this could be the result of playing multiple games with Couturier and Lindblom, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Naturally, Konecny will look better when he is more inclined to take increased responsibility in the offensive zone and less in the defensive zone, but that again fails the eye test.
Konecny hasn’t been some sort of stellar two-way forward, but is isn’t as if Konecny has been poor in his own end. Both Couturier and Lindblom’s Corsi-For take a decline without Konecny on their line. While neither of the two have played significant ice-time away from Konecny, I think it speaks to how valuable Konecny is on that line.
His points are mainly primary
Travis Konecny currently has six goals and seven assists for 13 points on the season. Five of those seven assists are primary, three of those primary assists have been to Oskar Lindblom. Specifically, I can remember the play against the Chicago Blackhawks where Konecny finds a tipped puck from Lindblom, rushes up with Oskar to the Chicago zone, and feeds him back a perfect pass which Lindblom shelfs into the net.
We’ve seen that when Konecny gets involved with the play, he’s usually the noticeable guy on the ice. This is true from a statistical perspective due to all the primary assists and goals, but also is noticeable from just watching the games.
He’s also been a huge piece of why the “second unit” of the power play has worked. He has gelled pretty well with Sean Couturier and Matt Niskanen to form a deadly trio on that unit, and has also directly fed Lindblom’s two power play goals.
Simply put, great offensive players, heck good hockey players, you can notice when they hit the ice because they make their presence felt. Travis Konecny has certainly made his presence felt.
Konecny has 100% been the Flyers best offensive talent so far this season. Statistics like the fact he is only second to JVR in scoring chances-for percentage with 62.39% show how much of an impact he has on the Flyers’ game. Konecny isn’t simply using his skill and speed, he’s using his skill and speed in smart, dynamic ways to increase the chances of scoring for both himself and his line-mates.
That is perhaps the most invaluable skill for a hockey player to have in his offensive tool kit, and Konecny has shown it in droves so far. If he continues down this path, Konecny will almost certainly hit or even break the 55-60 point season I predicted over the summer.
Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica Hockey