Travis Konecny was always on a collision course with being an All-Star type winger. This didn’t start with Alain Vigneault and it won’t end with him either. Going back to his Ottawa 67’s days he was an exciting player who could score the exciting goal but also elevate his linemates. By the time the Flyers drafted him in 2017 and rushed him to the NHL the following season, he had to learn on the job.
Just before his rookie season, he had eight points in 10 games in the World Championships. That boded well for the winger. In his rookie season, the talented Canadian had 11 goals and 28 points in 70 games. Sound familiar? Joel Farabee is headed down that highway. Both will overcome that but it’s not the ideal way to get your young talent to prosper at the NHL level.
In each of the next two seasons, he had 24 goals in both seasons. He was improving beyond the numbers. Was he still trash-talking? Sure, he always will. Was he taking the occasional dumb penalty? Yes, but he’s in his early 20’s, people forget that.
After getting paid, a very reasonable contract I might add, he has started with ten goals in his first 28 games. With 27 points he’s on par with some of the better top-line players in the league. It’s too easy to give the new coach all the credit. Dave Hakstol had to work with a player who was really raw and he gets credit too. Konecny deserves the most credit because he’s faster now than he was when he entered the league.
He’s matured as a player. His PIMS are down and now they’re more purposeful. He’s a leader on the ice and in the locker room, even at his age, he’s just a smart hockey player who never takes a shift off and can create instant offense.
In that shellacking of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Konecny talked about the goals they scored late and had a great take on that.
“It’s important. You have to play a full 60 minutes. We’re not trying and scoring as many goals as we can on these guys (Leafs late in the third with the game in hand), and make it an embarrassing thing. I’m sure if it was the other way around they would take the opportunities to score too. We just played the full 60 minutes.”
He knows how to play loose, and he has a hunger that a lot of players can’t match. Nobody ever talks about the fact that he’s 5-10. He has fun out there. He was born to play this game and he loves doing it. It’s not a job for him. It’s a way of life and every hockey team needs a “Konecny” on the roster.