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What does the Clayton Keller signing mean for Travis Konecny?

Is it panic time?

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve got contract happenings, folks! Who knew that with all of the RFAs left to be signed around the league, the first bit of contract news that would come out would be a forward signing... who didn’t need a new contract for another year.

Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes signed an eight year, $57.2 million contract, running an AAV of $7.15 million. And there are a whole host of initial thoughts that come to mind about this one, but as Flyers fans, our thoughts also drifted pretty quickly to Travis Konecny, our very own young winger in need of an extension. That’s a big contract that’s been handed out to a somewhat comparable player, and you know the league is paying attention to that, so what does it mean for Konecny?

The first question we should get out of the way first is this: is Clayton Keller worth $7.15 million a year?

The short answer is presently, right now, he isn’t. It’s hard to look at a 47 point sophomore season and say that he would be. Even with him totaling 65 points the season before, that isn’t a history that merits a massive pay raise, on its own.

But here’s the thing: this isn’t the Coyotes doing that. Rather, what they’re doing is betting on his future. The Sabres did the same thing when they signed Jack Eichel. With a 56 and 57 point season behind him, Eichel really wasn’t worth $10 million annually, but the Sabres were betting on their young star to grow into that contract, hoping that he’ll reach his ceiling and eventually turn into a player worth that money. And Arizona’s doing the same thing with Keller. We can quibble over whether or not this is going to be a move that pays off for them, but this is their thinking

With all of this considered, it should mean that this signing shouldn’t affect Konecny’s negotiations too heavily. Because of what we know about Konecny as a player, that he’s so far presenting as one who hasn’t been able to drive his own line, and as such whose results are dependent on the play of the his linemates, we know that he isn’t going to make the same money as The Young Stars. No matter how good of a support player he can be, he just isn’t on that same level. Additionally, the Flyers aren’t really in the position to be handing out a huge contract and hoping that Konecny grows into it, if you will. They just don’t have the space to make it work.

But we’d be naive to assume that they would bear zero weight on the negotiations. Because the job of agents is to get the most money for their client, which means it may well help their case for Konecny’s to point to Keller and say “well he’s getting this much money and my client is coming off a better season than him, so you do the math.”

Contracts like the one Keller was given do influence the market, and they will be used as bargaining tools in other players’ negotiations, but it’s important to remember that Konecny and Keller aren’t direct comparables, and nor are the Flyers and Coyotes’ situations. We’ve got a little bit more activity happening in the market, but it isn’t necessarily going to affect Konecny as much as it would if some of the RFAs had signed. Context, and things of that nature.

But, with all of that said, it still is movement in the market, and hopefully it pushes someone else to sign, even if it’s not Konecny immediately, and the ripples continue from there.

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