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2019-20 Player Review: Travis Konecny’s strong regular season and disappointing postseason

After leading the team in goals during the regular season Konecny failed to find the back of the net in the playoffs.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Islanders - Game Six Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

One of the biggest concerns during the 2019 offseason was how much money general manager Chuck Fletcher was going to pay forward Travis Konecny for his upcoming contract. After he handed the former first-round pick a six-year deal worth $33 million he proceeded to lead the Philadelphia Flyers with a career-high 61 points in 66 games during the regular season. Unfortunately the postseason was a different story for Konecny, but the former OHLer will get plenty of chances to prove he’s a playoff performer after coming up short in the bubble.

By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIMs Shots On Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIMs Shots On Goal Shooting Percentage
66 24 37 61 28 141 17

Despite playing in his lowest number of games out of any of his first four seasons in the league, Konecny tied his career high with 24 goals while also setting career highs with 37 assists and 61 points. His average ice time of 16:48 and shooting percentage of 17 (although a little high) are also career highs that played a role in his increased point production, but they aren’t trends that indicate the forward’s in for a major regression in 2020-21. If COVID-19 didn’t halt the 2019-20 regular season Konecny most likely would have broken the 25-goal plateau for the first time in his career and possibly even the 30-goal mark. The winger accumulated a ton of helpers on the man advantage, as his 18 assists on the power play are more than double the seven he totaled through his first three campaigns in the NHL. With the expectation that the 2020-21 season will be truncated, and a slight regression from shooting 17 percent to around a little over 13 percent, Konecny may be closer to the 20-goal mark next season and he should be around a point-per-game player again. The former Ottawa 67 also only registered 28 penalty minutes, a low for him in a single season on top of producing the most he has on the power play.

5v5 Individual Stats

Goals/60 Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Goals/60 Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
1.27 2.32 12.82 0.72

Although he didn’t finally hit 25 goals in a single season Konecny did register a career-high 5 goals on the power play and his 1.27 goals-per-60 at 5-on-5 was his highest for a single year. Not only was his 1.27 goals-per-60 rate at 5-on-5 the best of his career or the highest of any Flyers’ forward who was a regular last season, it was the 10th-highest rate among the 164 forwards across the league in 2019-20 who played 800 minutes or more at 5-on-5. Along with a high in goals-per-60 Konecny also set a new high with 2.32 points-per-60, which was good enough for fourth among Flyers’ forwards who were regulars in 2019-20 behind Scott Laughton (2.53 points-per-60), Sean Couturier (2.43), and Jakub Voracek (2.36). His 12.82 individual shot attempts-per-60 and 7.89 individual shots-per-60 at 5-on-5 last season were career lows, but Konecny broke 60 points for the first time in his career thanks to his assist totals. The 2015 pick improved his personal production at 5-on-5 and provided more on the power play despite the fact he launched less pucks towards the net and has the potential to create more dangerous chances at 5-on-5 next year. If he continues to keep top-six minutes and sees plenty of time on the man advantage (both of which should happen in 2020-21) Konecny’s individual numbers should continue to rise.

5v5 On-Ice Stats

Corsi For % Corsi For % RelTM Expected Goals For % Expected Goals For % RelTM Goals For % PDO
Corsi For % Corsi For % RelTM Expected Goals For % Expected Goals For % RelTM Goals For % PDO
54.77 5.24 54.58 5.34 51.9 99.5

In terms of driving play the 2019-20 season was Konecny’s best run to date. He managed to set career highs in Corsi-For percentage, Fenwick-For percentage (53.98 marking the first time he broke 51 percent), Shots-For percentage (53.27), and Expected-Goals for percentage. Outside of James van Riemsdyk’s 55.6 xGF% only Sean Couturier, who won the Selke Trophy in 2019-20 as the league’s best defensive forward, had a better CF% and xGF% among regular Flyers’ forwards. Konecny may have benefitted from spending a lot of 5-on-5 time with Couturier this past season, but he also fared pretty well away from the puck possession monster. Of his 851:46 at 5-on-5 Konecny spent 351:36 with Couturier while the duo started with Oskar Lindblom on their wing (58.92 CF%, 54.92 xGF%, and 47.57 GF% in 177 minutes together) before Claude Giroux joined them later on in the season (56.9 CF%, 57.37 xGF%, and 67.15 GF% in 138 minutes of work). Away from Couturier Konecny still posted respectable numbers alongside Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee (53.33 xGF% and 50.17 GF% in 100 minutes) as well as Giroux and Morgan Frost (57.88 CF% and 55.65 xGF% in 92 minutes). On top of these impressive numbers it’s also encouraging that Konecny had his best relative numbers of his career and was a shade under 100 PDO, meaning he drove play and produced without a ton of luck. Considering it’s likely he’ll spend most of next season with the same members of the Orange and Black at 5-on-5 hopefully he continues to improve his possession numbers.

Three burning questions

Did this player live up to expectations this season?
During the regular season, yes. He led the team in goals and points, drastically improved his assist total, and tilted the ice in Philly’s favor at 5-on-5. The forward tied his career high in goals despite the fact he played in the fewest number of regular season games in any of his four years in the league. Konecny signed a six-year deal back in September of 2019 and lived up to those expectations during the regular season. In the postseason, however, he came up short as he failed to record a single goal and averaged under 0.5 points-per-game with seven helpers in 16 postseason contests. The 2015 pick also saw his shots-per-game average drop from 2.14 in the regular season to 1.8 in the playoffs.

What do we expect from this player next season?
Another all-around strong season. Konecny’s shooting percentage was a little high, but if he’s still consistently getting top-six and even better top-line minutes then he’ll probably lead the team in goals once again. It’s tough to gauge how many times he’ll light the lamp in what will definitely be a shortened 2020-21 season, but if the Flyers end up with 60 or more games on the calendar the Ontario native should be in line for another 20-goal campaign. He’s also found some pretty good chemistry with both Couturier and Hayes so he should do damage at 5-on-5 regardless of who his main pivot is in a few months.

What would we like to see this player improve on?
Playoff production. Obviously Konecny wasn’t the only player who struggled to manufacture tallies in the second season, but it’s hard to explain how the team-leading scorer finished a lengthy postseason run with a goose egg in the goal column. To make matters worse the winger was invisible when he wasn’t assisting on goals in the playoffs. Outside of a chippy Game 6 performance against the New York Islanders in the second round it was difficult to remember if Konecny had dressed that night or not. For a guy knocking on the door of a 30-goal season once the league returns to an 82-game slate and is regarded as the best shit talker on the team he has to make his presence felt more in the playoffs.

*Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Evolving-Hockey