By now it’s no secret that it’s been an ugly year for the Philadelphia Flyers. The team has failed on all fronts, with the play of their top defenseman Ivan Provorov coming under heavy scrutiny. With a seemingly unavoidable rebuild on the horizon, whispers of a potential trade featuring the 25-year-old have sprung up and it poses an interesting question for the Flyers- Do they trade their number one defenseman?
The fans are starting to preach their distain for Provorov louder and louder over the last few months as he flails without a suitable defense partner. Ryan Ellis, who was supposed to be a key member of the blueline, has missed nearly the entire season rehabbing from an undisclosed injury and Provorov has once again been tasked with the bonafide number one defenseman role with a less than stellar partner. Even though he’s doing his best, he can’t carry the weight of the team alone.
One of the biggest mistakes the Flyers made under Ron Hextall during his rebuild was keeping the roster too competitive with too many star-caliber players, but by the time the team was supposedly ready to compete again, those players, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek, were all in their late 20’s or early 30’s and just weren’t the same players they were from a few seasons prior.
They’re seemingly going to have to make the same decision with Ivan Provorov this time around. Provorov, who turned 25 in mid-January, should be entering the peak of his career, and if the Flyers’ rebuild takes four to five years to see the fruits of their labor, does a 30-year-old Provorov still have a high caliber of play in him?
He’s still got three years left on his current deal at a $6.75 million cap hit, so it’s unlikely he’s hung out as bait during the 2022 trade deadline, but could be a massive summertime addition for any team looking for a top defenseman.
For the Flyers, it’s about measuring the risk-reward factor. Do they believe he can still be a top contributor years down the line, or can they get a king’s ransom for him now and jumpstart a potential rebuild? The Arizona Coyotes dangling Jake Chychrun on the trade market will be a good base point when it comes to what Ivan Provorov could potentially fetch as a return, even if the Coyotes blueliner is a better player overall.
One factor that may help them make the decision is the progress of fellow left-handed defensemen Cam York and Egor Zamula, who are rising through the developmental ranks. York, who has seemingly already earned an NHL spot, could be in the process of de-throning Travis Sanheim for top four minutes, could potentially serve as the team’s number one lefty if he continues to grow as a player.
If they deem York, who just turned 21, a number one defenseman within the next year or two, Provorov becomes more expandable.
Unless the Flyers are full-on committed to a teardown this summer, there isn’t an immediate urgency to trade Provorov. But if the rebuilding phase does start to take place this year and expands during the summer and next year’s trade deadline, then trading Provorov should be a real possibility.
There is no clock ticking on a potential Provorov deal. The Flyers hold the cards and don’t have to make a move if they don’t want to, but if they do ultimately go down the path of a rebuild, there should be little reason to keep him around. The emergence of York and Zamula will go a long way to making a final decision, but for the time being, nothing should be off the table over the next few seasons. If some team out there is desperate enough to offer up a big haul for Provorov, the Flyers need to seriously consider the offer because things are seemingly only going to get worse in Philadelphia before they get better. They may as well plan for a better future rather than trying to salvage the past.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nbcsports.com