Yesterday, General Manager Chuck Fletcher re-signed Scott Laughton for another two years and is now getting ready to put his final touches on the Flyers roster. Now only two players remain unsigned, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. Let’s take a quick look at what their contracts could potentially look like.
If entry-level contracts only lasted two seasons, Flyers fans would have easily given Provorov an 8×8 deal at the end of the 2017-18 campaign. But alas, they last three years and it just so happened that year three was a complete disaster for the young Russian blueliner.
What could have been the cause? Well, there were a few theories.
The easiest excuse people made for Provorov was that he was playing injured. And it made sense, he was coming off shoulder surgery after a Grade 3 AC separation sustained in the playoffs. Unfortunately, he shut down that notion on multiple occasions throughout the year, insisting he was 100%. This news came as sort of a disappointment for Flyers fans, because if he wasn’t injured, what could have caused his game to fall off a cliff?
Let’s keep in mind, this is a defenseman that scored SEVENTEEN goals as a sophomore. Even though it is unlikely he replicates that total, it was a glimpse of the offensive production #9 can bring to the table, with no power play time nonetheless.
Another theory, while it may seem like a tough pill to swallow, was that Provorov may not be as good as we all think he is. I mean, he got a pass during his rookie season because he was shackled to Andrew MacDonald, but even when he was paired with Gostisbehere and Sanheim last year, the results didn’t always look as good as we thought.
As mentioned earlier, the offensive production was there when he played with Ghost, but at the start of the year, it all seemed to fall apart. He shot the puck less, small mistakes became goals against, the turnovers were incomprehensible. How many times this season did Jim Jackson say “That was a rare turnover by Provorov” or something along those lines. He was making mistakes that he didn’t even make as a rookie.
When placed with Sanheim, they had their moments, but still struggled to find that balance. The positive: an increased role allowed Sanheim to flourish.
I do not believe this theory, over the past three seasons, the pros far outweigh the cons when evaluating Provorov’s game. The analytics may not favor him, but he has proven on an almost nightly basis to be a cornerstone piece of this blue line.
What I think? He is simply being overplayed. It is possible, even for a machine like him, to be exhausted. Since entering the league in 2016-17, only five defensemen have played more minutes than Ivan Provorov: Drew Doughty, Ryan Suter, Brent Burns, Rasmus Ristolainen and Duncan Keith. That is an insane amount of minutes (5,841). Now if we look at the numbers and compare them to similar defensemen (Werenski, Hanifin), #9 is above and beyond in total ice time and average time on ice per game.
The 2018-19 season really affected Provorov in a negative way. There is still uncertainty as to whether or not he is a legit top pair defenseman, but deep down I still believe Provorov will be a Norris Trophy candidate in a few years. In terms of his contract, what could he be looking at?
His agent, Mark Gandler, is known to be difficult to deal with, but so far, it’s been a matter of waiting for the market to be set. There are a lot of RFA defensemen out there waiting on new deals (Trouba, McAvoy, Werenski) and it’s unlikely that Provorov’s is settled until others sign. I personally have been advocating for the Aaron Ekblad contract for almost two years now (8 years, 7.5M AAV), which seems reasonable.
His agent is currently pushing for $8 million a year, which he shouldn’t get, but Fletcher hasn’t been the best negotiator in the early stages of his tenure, so we’ll have to see how that plays out. Either way, as long as Provorov is signed and ready to play in October, I could care less if he gets $8 million a year. He still has plenty of upside and even Bob McKenzie said on his podcast that he believes that the young Russian will see a Norris Trophy one day. Now let’s see it.
I think I speak for all Flyers fans when I say Konecny is an absolute treasure and should remain a Flyer forever. With that being said, Konecny bested his career high in points for the second consecutive season and hit the 20-goal plateau for the second time.
The Flyers have many needs, but finding a shooter has been one that’s been lingering for a while now. They already have fantastic playmakers in Giroux and Voracek, but nobody to really shoot it. If anything, Konecny has taken on that role, as Charlie O’Connor so eloquently pointed out in an article for The Athletic.
If there is one thing that didn’t go Konecny’s way last season, it was luck. It was absolutely baffling how many times he hit the post or had the puck bounce over his stick in front of a yawning cage. Had he buried a couple more chances, Konecny without a doubt would have hit the 30-goal mark, which is a realistic goal (pun intended) next season.
It’s not the most talked about, but ‘TK’ has an unbelievable release. We’ve had the chance to see it more often during the past two seasons and he’s been beating goaltenders clean on a lot of shots.
The expectations will be high for Konecny next season. He’s been improving every year and the Flyers will have a much more competitive squad. Playing alongside Giroux and Couturier should also help his point totals. However, even without 28 and 14, Konecny has managed to be a play driver, and the Flyers will have a lot of skill on every line.
Now, realistically, what is Konecny’s worth? It’s hard to tell, because like Provorov, there isn’t a clear market for RFA’s. However, it’s a plus that Timo Meier signed for a very team friendly 4×6 deal after a 30-goal, 66 point season. In an ideal world, Fletcher inks ‘TK’ to a two or three deal with an AAV of max 3.5 to 4 million.
When you look around the NHL, most right wings in that 40-50 point bracket are being paid in that range (Silfverberg, Perron, Mantha). I would expect no more than $4 million for Konecny, especially with the uncertainty of Provorov’s contract. This is going to be a “Go out there and prove to us you deserve a bigger payday” type of deal.
The Flyers currently have $13,417,421 left in cap space (as per CapFriendly). Once the Konecny and Provorov deals kick in, there won’t be much space left to add a player and the third line right wing spot is still up for grabs (Morgan Frost, wink wink).
Once everything is said and done, Fletcher will have done a good job at putting a competitive product on the ice. There is still something to be said about the contracts that have yet to be signed, but overall, the additions and (especially) the subtractions, have made this a vastly improved team. Here is a look at the potential lineup:
Is it October yet?
Photos by Kate Frese