The talk of this offseason for the Philadelphia Flyers has not been so much of how the team has seemingly improved on paper, rather how the team’s two young stars Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov still remain unsigned. The Provorov situation has been one that has at least made sense to the general public. A 22 year old defenseman who has the usage of one of the best blueliners in the league, but not the statistics to back it up, trying to get paid like one of the best at his position.
With Konecny however, it’s just a little strange that he and the Flyers have not come to an agreement as of yet. Also 22 years old, Konecny is coming off a 49 point season and could be set for a breakout one this year. While I don’t think many of us expected his deal to get done quickly with how the restricted free agent market has played out this year, the fact he remains unsigned in September just days away from training camp is surprising.
When the Washington Capitals extended forward Jakub Vrana, probably one of the closest comparables to Konecny, a lot of us expected these negotiations to pick up. Vrana was given a bridge deal and that seemed like a reasonable course of action to take with Konecny as well, but alas, no deal done.
So with a deal not done, we have to go to less than ideal scenarios, and one is of course: what if Travis Konecny holds out? Well, first of all this definitely opens up another spot in the lineup for one of Morgan Frost, or Joel Farabee. Those two top prospects are already fighting for the third line winger spot, and if Konecny holds out, it only makes their odds of making the Flyers roster even better.
Konecny is slated by many to be on the right wing with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux, which makes a hold out even more frustrating. This guy is your expected first line right wing, not exactly a depth piece. This is a prominent portion of your offense, and the Flyers need a solid option on the top line. So, what could the opening day lineup in Prague look like if Konecny does indeed hold out?
Projected lineup with Konecny hold out
Giroux — Couturier — Lindblom
JVR — Hayes — Voracek
Farabee/Frost — Patrick — Pitlick
Raffl — Laughton — a dude (hopefully NAK)
Even without Konecny, this lineup is still looking fully capable of getting the job done, especially if Frost and or Farabee are as good as we think they are. I know the decision to put Lindblom on line one might seem off, but let’s not forget how good he was at the end of last season on the top line. I think new head coach Alain Vigneault will take that into consideration if this scenario plays out.
Of course, having Travis Konecny not on this team come October 4 isn’t ideal in any conceivable way. This year is such an important one for this hockey team and having all pieces in place from the jump will be vital to a strong start, something this team hasn’t had in ages. Regardless of how good the lineup looks even without Konecny, he makes the team so much better, and the Flyers will need him to be a key contributor.
With the regular season less than a month away, it would be nice if the Flyers and Konecny could get a deal done soon, and avoid a William Nylander-like situation from a year ago with Toronto. We saw how much the time off affected Nylander’s game and he struggled essentially the entire season. Chuck Fletcher cannot afford to have the same thing happen with Konecny.