Flyers

Travis Konecny, Flyers agree to new 6-year contract

Travis Konecny, Flyers agree to new 6-year contract

The Travis Konecny drama is over.

The Flyers on Monday agreed to terms on a six-year, $33 million ($5.5 million AAV) deal with Konecny.

"We are happy to have Travis under contract for the next six seasons," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement released by the team. "Travis has shown progression in each of his three seasons and is an integral part of our group of young forwards. His speed, skill and tenacity sets him apart in today's NHL."

Konecny was a restricted free agent and missed the first three days of training camp. The Flyers open their preseason schedule Monday night and play four games in six days.

Fletcher wasn't kidding when he said negotiations can change quickly. At the start of camp Friday, a somewhat confounded Fletcher said the Flyers and Konecny's representation had "a ways to go" on finding a solution to a new deal, while head coach Alain Vigneault didn't hide his disappointment with the 22-year-old's absence from camp. He subtly reiterated that disappointment two days later.

But now all is well. It became clear that Konecny's camp wanted to go the route of a long-term deal rather than a bridge contract. The 2015 first-round pick put up back-to-back 24-goal seasons over the past two years and has seen his role fluctuate at times. Konecny has done most of his damage at even strength. Since 2017-18, he owns the same number of even strength goals (43) as Sidney Crosby and David Pastrnak, and has more than Artemi Panarin (42).

With greater responsibility, there's no reason Konecny can't turn into a 30-goal player.

"I'm really excited about signing with the Flyers and being able to call Philadelphia home for the next six years," Konecny said in the release. "I can't wait to get back with my teammates and to start a new relationship with the coaching staff. It's on me now to work hard and make up for the couple days I wasn't able to be here."

At a $5.5 million average annual value, it's an excellent deal for Konecny and a pretty good one for the Flyers, too. Konecny is only 22, entering his fourth NHL season and expected to make a bigger jump in production. If he performs, having him locked up through the 2024-25 season at a reasonable figure will be a major plus.

Think about it: Sean Couturier came into the league at 19 years old and didn't score more than 40 points until his seventh season when his role truly expanded.

Now the question becomes how quickly can Konecny catch up? He missed three important practices of training camp under a new head coach and two new assistant coaches.

Competition is currently ripe among the Flyers' group of forwards. Joel Farabee has impressed (even playing alongside Couturier and Claude Giroux) and others like Morgan Frost, German Rubtsov, Chris Stewart, Andy Andreoff, Kurtis Gabriel, Isaac Ratcliffe, Mikhail Vorobyev and Nicolas Aube-Kubel are vying for spots, as well.

If Nolan Patrick and Tyler Pitlick are healthy by the season opener (a big if), how does this sound for Oct. 4 in Prague, Czech Republic?

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Joel Farabee
Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Tyler Pitlick

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Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

Devils reportedly interested in former Flyers head coaches Peter Laviolette, John Stevens

With the NHL's 24-team return-to-play plan, naturally some hockey fans have enjoyed poking fun at the seven clubs left out of the field.

The Devils being one of them.

But not is all bad for the Flyers' Metropolitan Division foe. New Jersey has a 7.5 percent chance to earn the No. 1 overall draft slot after landing the top pick in 2019 (Jack Hughes) and 2017 (Nico Hischier). For the 2020 draft, the Devils could end up with three first-round selections.

Not an awful spot.

New Jersey is also in the market for a head coach after finishing the 2019-20 campaign with interim bench boss Alain Nasreddine. There are some big fish out there and the Devils could reel one in — possibly a former Flyers head coach. According to a report Thursday by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman in his latest 31 Thoughts column, New Jersey is eyeing at least four candidates for its vacancy.

Two of them spent time behind the Flyers' bench in 2009-10, when the club made a run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Per Friedman:

As for the coaching search, word is the Devils are eyeing at least four candidates. I believe that includes incumbent Alain Nasreddine, along with Gerard Gallant, Peter Laviolette and John Stevens. There may be one more. The wrinkle here is that [interim general manager Tom Fitzgerald] did the initial interviews, and will any of them want him as their boss should they be choice? It’s also possible ownership will want a conversation before any decision is made. It’s a unique time to try and hire someone.

Flyers fans had it difficult enough seeing Wayne Simmonds in Devils red for most of this season. Laviolette attempting to lead New Jersey back to playoff hockey for just the second time in nine seasons would be interesting to follow from afar. Nobody would doubt his ability to do it. Laviolette, who was fired by the Predators in January, has taken all four teams he has coached to the playoffs and three of them to the Stanley Cup Final, winning it all with the Hurricanes in 2006.

Stevens hasn't been an NHL head coach since 2018-19, when he was fired by the Kings 13 games into the season. He led the Flyers to back-to-back playoff appearances from 2007 to 2009 and was let go by the club 25 games into the 2009-10 campaign, opening the door for Laviolette's tenure in Philadelphia.

If Laviolette goes to the Devils, he'll have coached four teams now currently in the Metropolitan Division. Alain Vigneault (Rangers, Flyers), Barry Trotz (Capitals, Islanders) and John Tortorella (Rangers, Blue Jackets) have also coached multiple clubs in the division.

Laviolette would certainly give the division another heavy hitter behind the bench.

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2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' outlook for round robin, first round

2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers' outlook for round robin, first round

The round-robin tournament of the NHL's 24-team return-to-play format will represent different kinds of importance for the fourth-seeded Flyers.

Firstly, they couldn't ask for a better tune-up ahead of their first-round series. They'll play each of the Eastern Conference's top three teams once before meeting their opening-round opponent.

Secondly, those dates with the East's best could help the Flyers climb even more. The total points accumulated in the round-robin tournament will determine the conference's seed Nos. 1-4. If there are ties after the set of games, which will feature regular-season overtime and shootout rules, the regular-season points percentages of each club will serve as the tiebreaker.

How could the Flyers fare in the round-robin portion and what would it ultimately mean for their outlook in the 24-team setup?

Here are three factors to note:

1. Can Flyers win round robin?

They shouldn't be considered heavy underdogs. The Flyers will be confident in their opportunity to improve their seed after going 2-1-0 against the top-seeded Bruins during the regular season and 3-0-1 vs. the third-seeded Capitals. The second-seeded Lightning were the one club that gave the Flyers trouble. The Flyers dropped two games in regulation to Tampa Bay, but one was a 1-0 defeat and the other was a chippy 5-3 loss with an empty-netter in the final 22 seconds.

The Flyers have a goalie who keeps them in games and a group that held its own with the fellow top seeds in major statistical categories:

Goals per game

Lightning — 3.47
Capitals — 3.42
Flyers — 3.29
Bruins — 3.24

Goals against per game

Bruins — 2.39
Flyers — 2.77
Lightning — 2.77
Capitals — 3.07

Power play percentage

Bruins — 25.2
Lightning — 23.1
Flyers — 20.8
Capitals — 19.4

Penalty kill percentage

Bruins — 84.3
Capitals — 82.6
Flyers — 81.8
Lightning — 81.4

2. Wait, would they want to climb?

It's an interesting question right now because the NHL and NHLPA are undetermined on the format for the first and second rounds, whether it be bracketed or reseeding after the qualifying round.

That's a huge question.

Say the Flyers stayed at No. 4 in a bracket-style scenario and the 12th-seeded Canadiens knocked off the fifth-seeded Penguins, the Flyers would face Montreal. On paper, that would be a pretty favorable matchup against the lowest seed in the East. Whereas the No. 1 seed in the conference would face the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 matchup.

If the league instead agrees to reseed, such a scenario would see the No. 1 seed face the Canadiens during the first round, whereas the Flyers, as the fourth seed, would get the highest remaining seed to advance from the qualifying round.

When/if the Flyers play round-robin games, the NHL will have made a decision on the format for the first and second rounds. Right now, just about everything is undecided for the Flyers.

3. The good thing?

The Flyers can't hurt themselves in the round robin. As the lowest seed of the four, they can only improve their seed. If the Flyers struggle, they stay put at No. 4 and at least played three competitive warmup games for their first-round series.

The Flyers went 22-8-5 against the Eastern Conference playoff field during the regular season, so they'll like their chances against whichever team they draw.

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