The Flyers will have to get along for a while without a player who has been arguably their MVP in the season’s first 30 games.
Travis Konecny, the Flyers’ leading scorer with 28 points, is out indefinitely with a concussion, general manager Chuck Fletcher announced Monday.
“He’s been our best scorer and found a way to contribute, not just offensively, but he had been playing well defensively, also,” coach Alain Vigneault said Monday during a break in practice in Voorhees. “We had been using him five-on-five, using him on the power play. It’s going to give somebody else a chance to get a bigger role and get a little bit more ice time.”
The 22-year-old right winger was injured in the first period Saturday when he took an open-ice hit from Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who was not penalized on the play. The Flyers beat the Senators, 4-3.
“There’s no doubt there’s a challenge there,” Vigneault said about playing without Konecny. “But injuries are part of a season. You have to expect it.”
Vigneault said he was “contemplating a couple things” and has not sorted out who will replace Konecny on a line with left winger Claude Giroux and center Morgan Frost. James van Riemsdyk, who has been playing on the fourth line recently, and Jake Voracek are the top candidates to move to that unit.
“That’s the thing with our team. I think every line is following the system and playing the right way and that’s why we’re being successful,” Giroux said. “We can’t change that even if we change players on the line. We have to keep the same mentality.”
Konecny is also the Flyers’ co-leader with 11 goals, tied with Oskar Lindblom. The Flyers will start a three-game road trip in Colorado on Wednesday.
“He’s a very high-energy guy and a big part of our team,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “Hopefully, he gets better and can come back soon. Everybody has to step up a little bit and carry the load a little more.”
Provorov is one of Konecny’s closest friends.
“I think he’s doing good. He’s optimistic. ... He’s here. He’s positive. He’s smiling,” Provorov said. “He rested [Sunday], and I think he’ll be fine. First of all, he has to take care of himself and get healthy and come back when he’s 100 percent.”
As of now, there is no plan to recall a forward, Vigneault said, but it would be surprising if the Flyers didn’t recall a player, such as Carsen Twarynski, Connor Bunnaman, or David Kase, from the AHL’s Phantoms, to give them insurance for a trip that also has stops in Minnesota and Winnipeg.
Bruising winger Chris Stewart, who has been primarily a healthy scratch this season, is expected to be in the lineup against Colorado.
Konecny “was on another level this year, and it [stinks] to see him go down like that,” said defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who called the hit from Borowiecki “a hockey play.”
"It’s going to happen. I’m sure [Konecny] will say the same thing.”
Gostisbehere said it was good to see Konecny around the Flyers’ practice facility Monday “and not in a basement somewhere. It’s good to see him around, and I think they’ll probably take their time” and not rush him back.
In addition, defenseman Phil Myers left Monday’s practice early because of a recurrence of back spasms, meaning Robert Hagg figures to be in the lineup Wednesday in Denver. Myers leads the Flyers — and all NHL rookies — with a plus-14 rating.
Kevin Hayes might play on the second power-play play unit, with someone moving to the No. 1 unit to take Konecny’s spot. ... Colorado defenseman Cale Makar (eight goals, 28 points), the rookie-of-the-year favorite, and center Nazem Kadri are listed as day to day with injuries. ... The high-scoring Avs take a six-game winning streak into Monday, allowing just 10 goals in that span. ... Joel Farabee had his wisdom teeth pulled and did not practice Monday. ... Lindblom sat out practice, and the team called it a maintenance day. ... Giroux said Konecny’s game has matured. “He knows when to make plays, when to take chances. He’s been playing with a lot of confidence.” ... The Flyers had no update on Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder). ... The Flyers are allowing 2.67 goals per game, sixth best in the NHL. ... Former Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has been playing third-line center for the Avs.