After two 24-goal seasons in Philadelphia, there were many that were concerned that Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny was at a crossroads in 2019-20 where his career would either take that next step or fall back. Konecny took that next step, scoring 24 goals for a third straight year, but also seeing a points increase of 12 in a pandemic-shortened season. Much of those offensive statistics can be credited to his improved defense, according to The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor (subscription required).
With a new coach coming in last year in Alain Vigneault, Konecny put more of his offseason focus into developing his two-way game, which impressed the new coach, giving him more on-ice access during games, including playing late in games, something that he rarely saw under former head coach Dave Hakstol and then interim coach Scott Gordon. Vigneault’s confidence in Konecny led to an increase of minutes where he saw a 1:32 ATOI of more ice time.
While his regular season was a success, his playoffs was far from it with zero goals and seven assists in 16 games, including a big drop-off in his defensive ratings. The key to his future as a potential Flyers’ star is whether he can prove his two-way game is for real.
- While there is hope that the Washington Capitals drafted a pair of steals in the past two drafts in Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre, The Athletic’s Tarik El-Bashir (subscription required) writes that it’s highly unlikely that either player will have much of a shot to crack Washington’s opening lineup this coming season. The scribe writes that the team has no interest in rushing one of their top prospects in the first place as well as the fact that both are centers and would have to beat out either Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom or Lars Eller, which isn’t going to happen.
- With Gustav Nyquist expected to miss the next five to six months due to shoulder surgery, the Columbus Blue Jackets could look to the free-agent market to add another forward. However, The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline (subscription required) writes that general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, not a fan of free agency, will wait and could just choose to promote player from within. Nyquist, who was likely going to play on the second line alongside Max Domi and Cam Atkinson, could be replaced by veterans Nick Foligno or Boone Jenner or even see what rookie Liam Foudy could do in a top-six role.