Despite being in a psudo-rebuild since Ron Hextall took over in 2014, the Philadelphia Flyers have never attempted to tear the roster down during that time. The band was never broken up during the heyday of Claude Giroux’s reign, with Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek and the captain himself all sticking around long past the height of their value.
Lately, the Flyers are stuck. They’ve worked themselves into an ugly cap situation with a roster that has won just 25 games in each of the last two seasons. Now, the front office has some reflecting to do when it comes to the next steps of the organization, and it could lead to finally selling off a few assets to help properly restock the cupboards with picks and prospects ahead of the loaded 2023 draft.
Ivan Provorov’s name is officially being teased in the trade rumor mill, and after his stunt he pulled on pride night, the Flyers are probably eager to move him. But it poses many questions for the franchise, both about the state of their current roster, and what trading their number one defenseman signals for the rest of the team. There’s a pretty high chance that a Provorov trade doesn’t make them a better team in the short term, so what do the Flyers get by moving him?
An ideal return for Provorov is a pair of top picks or a can’t-miss prospect. Something that will help the organization moving forward, but may not reap the benefits right away. Trading the 26-year-old defenseman for an asset or two then calling it a summer is the one-foot-in, one-foot-out approach the Flyers are famous for these days. But what if it the first move in a real attempt at a rebuild?
The Flyers don’t have an abundance of valuable roster pieces these days thanks to salary cap and various player struggles, but their three biggest assets, Provorov, Travis Konecny and Carter Hart are all having pretty good years. What if they sold high on all three this summer to expedite their current version of a rebuild?
Carter Hart is quickly entering the same boat as Provorov. He’s doing his best, but the continued miserable state the Flyers are stuck in has really brought down his overall play and the mounting frustration from the player is palpable. And as 23-year-old Sam Ersson continues his impressive NHL debut run, it appears as though the Flyers may have an in-house solution to their future in the crease.
While it feels way too early to make in impromptu switch full-time from Hart to Ersson, now would be the perfect time to deal the former. He’s only got one year left on his current contract at a $3.9 million cap hit, a number that is sure to at least double next time he sits down for negotiations. Hart is still just 24 years old and would draw interest from teams across the league if he hit the trade block. There would be both basement dwellers and Cup-caliber teams looking to acquire his services and the king’s ransom the Flyers could demand in return could be franchise-altering.
Travis Konecny has been the only forward on the team with any semblance of a clue this season, and it has led to a career year for the soon-to-be 26-year-old. Konecny has always been a fan favorite for his child-like antics on the ice, but he has been a thoroughly underwhelming player dating back to the 2020 playoff bubble, and it begs the question- is this the real version of Konecny or not?
Whether this career year is an anomaly or not, he has boosted his trade value to new heights. If the Flyers were a true rebuilding team, they would be foaming at the mouth to trade Travis Konency. Cashing out high on a player like TK is the kind of thing most franchises who are reconstructing dream of. Capitalizing on that if they want to move him would be smart, but they also have to ask themselves some questions if they intend on keeping him based of this season?
Are the Flyers going to be competitive within the next two years, the last of his current contract? Do they risk this season being an abnormality and his value taking a nosedive if they keep him into next season and eventually moving him for pennies on the dollar? It may not be the most popular choice, but one that could be the difference between a successful future or a continued struggle in the ugly in between.
Unfortunately, a real rebuild can’t take place in Philly. There’s just too many long-term contracts on the books, and with the financial struggles the flat cap has created across the league, it’ll take years for the ceiling to rise high enough were moving bad contracts is feasible once again. That said, if the Flyers are entertaining the idea of parting ways with one of the cornerstones of their current roster, they may as well consider trading all three.
Getting major returns in the form of draft picks and preferably young NHL talent gives the Flyers a second chance to make something out of this group and win with a young core they’ve assembled over the last couple years. It may be an unpopular opinion, but it may also be the best move to give the Flyers a real chance at a successful future.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com