Five reasons why Flyers forward Travis Konecny won’t fall victim to the sophomore slump

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The Philadelphia Flyers are going through a massive rebuild, transitioning from a club based on snap decisions and a win now mentality to an organization grounded in its patient, build-from-within approach. Along the way they’ve managed to amass one of the premiere prospect pools in the NHL. Ron Hextall has worked hard to right many of the wrong decisions made in Paul Holmgren’s tenure as GM, all while putting a team that regularly contends for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the ice, not an easy task by any means. This rebuild on the fly has been one Flyers fans have had a great time playing a part in and has the team on the cusp of contending, not only for a playoff spot, but a championship.

For the past few years, Hextall and the rest of the Flyers front office have focused on building up a solid blue line prospect core on which to build the future of the organization. Players like Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov have given the team what figures to be a genuinely elite defense group, and the acquisition of these top-tier talents has allowed Hextall to shift his focus to building up his group of forward prospects. German Rubstov, Oskar Lindblom and 2017 2nd overall pick Nolan Patrick are just some of the up-and-coming forwards that make this one of the greatest times to be a Flyers fan in the history of the organization, but one name excites me the most.

More so than any other prospect or young gun on the team, Travis Konecny’s 2017-18 season is the one I personally am looking forward to the most. He possesses hands of gold and a vision extremely similar to our own Claude Giroux’s, but with an intense compete level and an ability to use his small frame in ways that makes him seem like a much larger player. Last season, while apart of an aging forward group, Konecny shined bright when given the freedom to play his game. His season didn’t miss its’ share of unforced errors and growing pains, not many 19-year-old’s rookie season does, but the energy and grit he flashed on a nightly basis made those errors a little easier to forgive. I truly believe Teeks will continue his forward progress and won’t fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump that so many other promising young talents do, and here are my reasons why:

 

1. The Flyers organization wants him to succeed.

Ron Hextall has made it abundantly clear that if he believes putting a player into the Flyers lineup will hinder their development or hurt their chance to succeed, he simply won’t do it. The GM has repeatedly shown good judgement thus far in his tenure and he wouldn’t have placed a player with such high expectations onto the opening night squad if he didn’t think it was the right time. Hextall’s faith in him and my belief that Hakstol will surround Konecny with the type of players that will allow him to showcase his talents should help him avoid a regression from last season.

 

2. He didn’t exactly set the league on fire last season.

By no means did TK have a disappointing rookie season, but he didn’t set the bar at an unrealistic level with his points totals or overall play last season. The Flyers are so stocked with exciting young talent that Konecny doesn’t have to deal with an intense spotlight like so many other players his age. Shayne Gostisbehere went through that particular type of pressure last season and didn’t fair all that well. Ghost exploded onto the scene with a style of play that was quite unique, but because of the bright spotlight he put on himself in result of his great season, he became a huge target for opposing teams. Konecny has so many big names around him that he can still quietly hone his game and familiarize himself further with the league.

 

3. The team as a whole is better this year.

Some players play a style of game that isn’t dependent on the talent surrounding them, others are forced to rely on the skillset of their teammates. Konecny is of the latter category. A gifted passer with a small frame, naturally TK needs players around him that can put the puck in the net and those that are capable of taking some of the physical pressure off of him. With the addition of Patrick and another year of building chemistry with the likes of Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, Konecny should be able to utilize their skills in ways that will greatly enhance his own. Playing with good players always makes it easier to play well yourself, a huge reason TK should have an even better year than the last.

 

4. Confidence is key! And Teeks has plently of it.

You can feel it in the way he skates, the way he hits and the way he interacts with his veteran teammates, Konecny is full of confidence. Maybe at times that confidence causes him to turn the puck over, but that willingness to make the play instead of forcing an ill advised pass is something the Flyers need desperately. He respects the leaders of the team but isn’t afraid to put himself out there, quickly forming close relationships with a few of his fellow Flyers, in particular Jakub Voracek. Relationships such as that one can greatly benefit a player, the guidance of a veteran almost always aids in the progression of a player.

 

5. Well… because I just do!

The support of a fan base is so important to any franchise and the Philadelphia Flyers have plenty of it. Getting excited about our up-and-comers is the greatest part of being a fan of this team right now and I, for one, think Konecny will shine bright this year. Playing in the greatest sports city in the world has its’ advantages and being surrounded by passionate and supportive fans is certainly one of them. So, hopefully number #11 gets out there and proves me right! Travis has a long, successful career ahead of him whether he suffers a down year or not and it’s a privilege to get to be apart of.

 

What kind of year do you think Travis Konecny will have? Sophomore slump? A jump into the elite tier? Let us know!

 

Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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