Travis Konecny’s left ankle and knee injury could not have occurred at a worst time.
Not just for the Flyers, but for himself.
The announcement Tuesday that he will miss four to six weeks is devastating news for the 19-year-old to swallow (see story), given he had just come off a two-game benching and his confidence was already rattled.
Now he’ll fall far behind teammates in terms of conditioning and on-the-job learning as a rookie, which places even greater pressure on him when he returns sometime in March to get his game ironed out.
In 51 games this season, Konecny has seven goals, 22 points and a minus-4 rating.
The price the Flyers pay is the loss of young blood in a lineup already lacking speed and creativity, not to mention the enthusiasm that rookies bring to the dressing room.
The Flyers have been shut out in succession at home — something that last happened in October 1999, when Konecny wasn’t even 2 years old — and are in the midst of a crucial five-game homestand, during a time in which their hold on the second wild card is a very tenuous single point over the Bruins, who fired coach Claude Julien this morning.
Obviously, Flyers coach Dave Hakstol has no choice but to reinsert Matt Read, who was benched for the 2-0 Blues loss (see game story). Read lacks the dynamics that Konecny brings.
General manager Ron Hextall did not announce any immediate roster move but an ideal call-up from the Phantoms would be Jordan Weal, who is very similar in both size and attributes to Konecny.
Weal didn’t make the final roster cut this season based on numbers. If ever were a time for him to shine, this is it. He leads the Phantoms by a large margin in points — 45 — even though Greg Carey has more goals (22 vs. 15).
Carey is a left wing, whereas Weal is a center. Konecny was a natural center playing the wing.
If Weal doesn’t get the call-up and someone else does, then it says quite a bit about just how the organization feels about him.
If you recall, Weal was acquired from Los Angeles in January of 2016 as part of the deal that sent Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier to the Kings.
Weal spent 13 games as a healthy scratch, then injured his shoulder during a morning skate in mid-February at New Jersey. He missed 26 games, re-entering the lineup on the final day of the regular season (April 10), even though he was actually fully recovered nearly a month earlier.
All that said, given the defensive posture the Flyers have taken recently, Boyd Gordon could be the call-up or even two-way forward Taylor Leier, although he's currently recovering from an injury.
The Flyers return to practice Wednesday at Skate Zone. At the moment, they don’t have any extra forwards on the roster.
On Thursday, the Islanders visit town. By then we’ll know whether they’re going to recall a forward.
This much is certain. They will need one more body here before they travel to Western Canada next week to take on Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver.