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Could the Flyers trade Travis Konecny?

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How big of a risk would Konecny be taking by holding out?

Heather Barry / SB Nation

Listen.

This isn’t a scenario that we particularly want to talk about. Ever since he joined the team three seasons ago, Travis Konecny has done just about everything he could do to endear himself to the fanbase, both as a player and a personality. He’s a home grown talent. We like him. We want to root for him. We don’t want to see him shipped off. But as the days tick away and camp draws ever nearer and he doesn’t have a contract, we need to go down the rabbit hole a little bit and examine some more possible outcomes of this situation.

We’re kind of in absolute worst case scenario territory here, but we’ve got to at least talk about it. So what could happen if Konecny holds out into and even beyond training camp?

Let’s take a quick moment to have a look at what the forward lines could look like in his absence:

Giroux-Couturier-???

Lindblom-Hayes-Voracek

Van Riemsdyk-Patrick-???

Raffl-Laughton-???

???

And maybe Kurtis Gabriel (who does have the two-way contract, and Capfriendly has listed as a roster forward, for those who take that into consideration) slides into one of those open spots. And, assuming the Flyers keep at least one extra forward on hand, that still leaves three roster spots open for, presumably, one of the kids to grab.

So what does this mean for Konecny? Why does this mean he could be traded, Madeline? Well, I’ll tell you.

Picture this: Konecny had been penciled in on that first line right wing, but camp comes and goes and he’s still holding out for a contract. The Flyers are forced to put a kid in that spot. For the sake of this thought experiment, we’ll say it’s Joel Farabee, but you could substitute your favorite prospect’s name in if you want. So the season starts and Farabee/your favorite kid starts out strong. He just clicks with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, and he’s able to just about replicate the scoring numbers that Konecny’s been able to produce while playing on that line.

And now the Flyers have a big decision to make. Because they’re getting comparable production for cheaper right now. They have talented players knocking on the door as well, still. And maybe Konecny is simply asking for too much. And maybe this means that the team decides that they no longer need him.

Because, as much as we like him, what Travis Konecny is right now is a player who can add a nice bit of scoring to the mix when placed in the right setting. He’s a good complementary player, but the complementary players aren’t the ones that you can pay Big Money to, as much as they may demand it. If it gets to the point where it appears that Konecny will accept nothing less than an overpay, the team may decide to just pass and reserve that money for another young player—who can drive play or a line more independently—sometime down the line.

There’s a case to be made that the value they get out of a trade for Konecny wouldn’t be great, but perhaps that’s a conversation for another day. What we’re getting at here is that Konecny is in a pretty precarious situation right now, and if he misses an extended period of time, he may well lose his spot in the lineup. We’re seeing that more so than ever, these young RFAs have leverage over teams in their contract negotiations with their option to hold out, but because of Konecny’s nature as a player at present, he finds the tables turned.

When holding out, the player bets that the team is worse off without them, and they force them to up their offer, closer to the player’s ask. But Konecny would be taking a big risk in doing this. Because, while he is a very talented player, he may not be irreplaceable. And it may mean the team wouldn’t have to think too long about a trade, if it felt like their hand was being forced in that direction.

This really would be the full nuclear course of action, and we’re deep in the realm of pure speculation right now. There’s no guarantee that this will happen. There haven’t even been any whispers that the Flyers are looking into moving him. But it is worth making note of the risk that comes for a player like Konecny, should he opt to hold out into the season.