The Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Ivan Provorov are headed for a breakup after seven long and grueling years together. The 26-year-old Russian defenseman has clearly been unhappy for quite some time with the state of the franchise, and thanks to the stunt he pulled on pride night that drew massive national negative media attention, there’s almost no chance he and the Flyers can salvage their fractured relationship, so Provorov will more than likely get traded before the start of the 2023-24 campaign. The question (even before he became the poster boy for homophobia and “freedom of speech” for fat, greasy, neckbeards everywhere) was what the Flyers could reasonably seek in return for the Russian blueliner?
The Vancouver Canucks are a complete dumpster fire of an organization and Ivan Provorov is a brooding homophobic asshole. Sounds like he’d fit right in with the disarray.
There have been rumors that 24-year-old sniper Elias Pettersson has been rather unhappy in Vancouver, as most folks are these days, and could be one of the many pieces traded away during the offseason. Vancouver’s front office has mimicked the Flyers in their “not rebuilding but rather retooling” ideology, so it’s feasible they could look for a main roster staple if dealing away Pettersson rather than a treasure of picks and prospects.
Pettersson has been playing center lately, a role he morphed into last year after spending most of his early career on the wing. The Flyers get a young high-end offensive producer that can play center in exchange for their renegade defenseman. It’s a high profile deal, but one the Flyers should scope out for a trade chip like Provorov.
The Kings have quite a few prospects lingering around. Some very high end, and others are at the end of the road when it comes to their NHL potential. For the Flyers, it’ll be about finding the best prospect that still has tread left on the tires, because it’s unlikely they give up someone like Brandt Clarke in a trade. Enter Quinton Byfield.
The 20-year-old former second overall pick in 2020 is in his third NHL season, but has yet to make the roster full time yet. He’s got 18 points in 66 games over the last three campaigns, with seven coming in 20 games during 2022-23. He’s a natural center, though has been playing on the left wing during his most recent recall as the Kings attempt to ease his transition to the NHL.
He’s a guy that may not have a long-term home in LA, but is young enough that it could still be a very enticing name in a trade. It’s a perfect scenario for a team that could use a minute-munching left-handed defenseman like Provorov.
The Oilers are one of the teams who value winning more than their moral high grounds as evidenced by the fact the employ Evander Kane, and they will be desperate for any help on the back end, so Provorov could be a natural fit.
The Flyers could snag 21-year-old Dylan Holloway, who was the 14th overall pick in 2020, as well as a rehab project like Jesse Puljujarvi, who just isn’t working out in Edmonton but his underlying numbers seem to hint at a worthwhile player waiting to be unlocked, to sweeten the pot
Two young roster players with massive upside between them could be the best return the Flyers could reasonably seek for the 26-year-old blueliner. Torts has proven his ability to get young players on track this season, so if he could steer Puljujarvi’s career back in the right direction it’s icing on the cake.
Anything short of a Stanley Cup in Toronto is going to open the door for massive changes this summer, and any worthwhile trade is more than likely going to be an upgrade to their D-corps in turn for sacrificing one of their top-end offensive players.
Nylander has always been one of the better under-the-radar forwards in the leauge. He’s got 24 goals and 52 points already this season, after posting a career best 34 goals and 80 points in 2021-22.
He’s got two years left on his current deal at a $6.9 million cap hit, which is just $200,000 more than Provorov’s making. A near perfect one-for-one trade for two teams that don’t have much breathing room from the cap ceiling. Even if the Flyers have to sweeten the pot on their end, there could be a worthwhile trade brewing in Toronto that could help fix the lack of talent up front in Philly.
Speaking of financial sense for a desperate team, it’s totally possible the Florida Panthers throw their hat in on the Provorov sweepstakes.
Sam Reinhart, now 27, has one year left on his current deal at a $6.5 million cap hit. The Panthers are struggling to find the same competitive edge they had last season and could look to make a drastic change or two to salvage their weak defense. The Flyers may have had eyes on Reinhart back in the summer of 2021 when they acquired Rasmus Ristolainen from the Sabres, but the asking price wasn’t right.
A straight up hockey trade featuring players of the same cost and age to fix holes on their respective teams makes plenty of sense and may be the best real world situation the Flyers could find in a trade.
Plus, it’s a team based in Florida. Provorov’s homophobic nature will make him a God down there.
This one feels like a long shot, but could end up making sense if by chance the Red Wings and Larkin are doomed to separate by the trade deadline. The Wings are in need of a top left-handed defenseman and could very well be interested in Provorov, who has two years left on his current deal at a $6.75 million cap hit. It’s going to have to be go time in Detroit sooner or later, and adding a kay main roster piece in exchange for losing Larkin may be more enticing than a flurry of more draft picks.
The problem is, this would be a trade deadline move less than six weeks away. Is that enough time for the nuclear heat of Provorov’s actions to cool down enough where Detroit could make the deal without an obscene amount of blowback? Maybe, maybe not.
Larkin is a pending unrestricted free agent, so the foundation of this trade would need to make sure that he’s even willing to talk a contract extension with Philly before any deal is made, but if the Flyers can land fist dibs and Larkin is willing to sign, it could end up being a great deal for Chuck Fletcher.
Provorov’s value was hard enough to determine before his pride night antics, and now who knows if any team is going to pay up for this guy.
One of the biggest questions is what exactly it is the Flyers are looking for in return. Is it a coacktail of draft picks? Or are they looking for established NHL talent in a “hockey trade? Maybe a few prospects with high ceilings who have yet to make the NHL full time?
Chances are, they are going to land a first round pick and a pretty decent prospect for Provorov during the offseason. In that sense, players like Byfield or Holloway could be very much on the radar, though the Flyers seeking a “hockey trade” opens the potential options by a wide margin. The team needs a top six center and a top right-handed defenseman, so if any player-for-player deal is to be had, it would need to fill a positional need. No more wingers and no more left-handed defenseman.
It’s not often anyone feels bad for Chuck Fletcher, but trading a guy who just torpedoed his reputation and whose value wasn’t at it’s peak to begin with yet simultaneously still playing a big role on-ice for the Flyers is going to be no easy task.
Godspeed Fletcher. Bet you regret not telling the PR team Provorov was going to pull this stunt to begin with, eh?
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
Photo credit: nhl.com