Quick Hits: Konecny, Jones, TIFH and More
Quick Hits: August 21, 2019
1) The market of still-unsigned restricted free agent forwards this summer includes Brayden Point, Mitch Marner, Patrik Laine, Mikko Rantanen, Matthew Tkachuk, Brock Boeser and Kyle Connor. Kevin Fiala is also an RFA this summer. Flyers RFA Travis Konecny will not command as quite much as many of these players their eventual contracts will place market value brackets in this year's crop of still-unsigned players. However, the closer and closer the calendar gets to the start of training camp, the more the pressure rises on both sides to get a deal done.
The word on Konecny is that there has been some negotiating progress made toward a bridge deal and there is optimism that something will get completed ahead of camp. How far ahead is unclear. In the case of Flyers RFA defenseman Ivan Provorov, things are still apparently still in a holding pattern while Charlie McAvoy (Boston) and Zach Werenski (Columbus) also remain unsigned.
2) Speaking of Konecny, one of the more intriguing dynamics to watch over the next season will be the relationship between the fourth-year player and the new coaching staff, especially forwards/power play coach Michel Therrien. Konecny is the type of a player whom coaches tend to puzzle over how to best handle.
On the one hand, the winger's energy and offensive talents (back-to-back 24 goals seasons in his second and third NHL campaigns) are things that should not be stifled. On the other hand, Konecny's on-ice exuberance is not always channeled in ways that are beneficial. His risk-reward decisions, lapses in detail (weak side defenseman coverage, neutral zone play, time/place/score adjustments, etc.) and keeping his emotions in check are challenging.
To his credit, Konency is not resistant to receiving coaching, whether by video or on-the-spot instruction. When he's messed up or even has been benched, Konecny has never publicly complained. Last season, after a game where he had two points but some off-puck and puck-management lapses, Konecny said he needs to better. Then-head coach Dave Hakstol said that Konency had shown growth in his self-awareness.
"That's half the battle," Hakstol said.
The other half of the battle -- not just being aware of what needs to be cleaned up but actually doing it with consistency -- was still a work in progress under Hakstol and then under Scott Gordon. A longtime NHL pro scout said coaxing overall consistency from the player is something that "makes a coach work hard for his money."
"You expect that with young players, to some degree. I think the thing with Konecny is that he's been around for several years now, and he's still making a lot of the same [mistakes] he did as a rookie. But he can score in this league, and he's starting to come into his own offensively, so you work with him and hope the other parts eventually click," the scout said.
With the change over to Vigneault as head coach and Therrien -- who has an aggressive, in-your-face style of player interactions -- the dynamic with Konecny will be an interesting one. On whose line will he play at five-on-five? Presumably he'll be on the second power play unit, but who else will be there and how much ice time will they get? Will Konecny be trusted in the third period with a narrow lead or in a tied game? With new coaches, will he be routinely trusted as part of the 3-on-3 rotation in overtime?
Answers to those questions will take shape in the months to come. In the meantime, Konecny's next contract -- assuming it is a bridge deal and not a long-term -- will essentially involve the young player betting on himself that he will not only see his offensive production grow beyond his 47 and 49 points of the last two seasons but also become a player that his coaches feel they can trust in any period and regardless of the score.
3) Here's a funny story from Sunday night's Flyers Alumni Camp farewell dinner and Q&A session. Keith Jones first joined the Flyers broadcast team during the 2006-07 season. At the time, the coach's post-game press conference was held immediately after the game (more recently, the coach speaks after locker room access to the players), but it was aired on the television post-game show after it was already completed.
Jonesy had fun with it, and used the postgame broadcast itinerary to his advantage. Before the coach's presser would run on TV, Jones (already knowing what was said) would make on-air "predictions" of how he thought Ken Hitchcock and then John Stevens would analyze the team's performance. Naturally, Jonesy was always right on the money.
4) Today in Flyers History: Bob "the Hound" Kelly's 10-season stint in a Flyers uniform came to an end on Aug. 21, 1980, when the Flyers traded him to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a 1982 third-round pick (Bill Campbell). With the Capitals woefully thin on talent, Kelly was put into more of an offensive-oriented role than he played in Philadelphia. The 31-year-old responded with 26 goals and 62 points (both career highs) in 1980-81. The next season, unhappy with playing in a losing environment after being on a perennial Cup contender in Philadelphia and clashing with head coach Bryan Murray, Kelly played in only 16 games and then retired.