The 2023 offseason provides many questions for the Philadelphia Flyers to face, but none may be more important than the fate of 26-year-old defenseman Ivan Provorov. The Provorov saga feels like it reached a bit of a stalemate. The player wants out, the team probably wouldn’t mind him leaving, but as their de fecto top defenseman and top trade chip in a market that just isn’t suited for big returns at the moment, naturally there is hesitancy to move him.
If the Flyers do start listening to offers, what should we expect an Ivan Provorov trade to look like?
A not insignificant portion of the fanbase has turned on him, for one reason or another, and while he’s strung together quite a few down years, once upon a time he looked like a legitimate top guy and still plays a pretty massive role that can’t just go unaddressed.
He’s eighth in the NHL in average TOI over the last five seasons with 24:31, second in total minutes behind only Brent Burns, 17th in shorthanded TOI, 12th at even strength TOI and fourth in blocked shots with a whopping 700.
Provorov may not be the bona fide, unquestioned number one everyone assumed he would be, but he’s not a guy you can simply give away and replace with ease. Nobody on the current roster even comes close to the ability to handle the minutes Provorov has. Cam York is assumingly going to be the one tasked with picking up a bulk of Provorov’s minutes with Sanheim sucking up whatever’s left, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence there’s even a “by committee” solution.
The Jakub Chychrun trade at the 2023 trade deadline set a potential bar for a Provorov deal, that being a conditional (top five protected) 2023 first round pick and a pair of second round picks in 2024 and 2026. Chychrun is a year younger and $2 million cheaper, but Provorov has the far better health track record and is probably the slightly better player when at their respective peaks.
What if they get a first round pick and second round pick from a playoff-caliber team who could use a LHD? So a, say, 20th overall pick with a 52nd overall pick thrown in.
Do they just trade their minute-munching defenseman who we’ve seen play at a much higher level than he is right now for a few crapshoot draft picks?
Do players that potentially top out as the next German Rubstov and Pascal Laberge make it worth moving Provorov?
It’s a “trade just to make a trade” if ever there was one.
Is Provorov bad enough where they’ve reached the just get rid of him at all costs phase? It could be a potential addition by subtraction situation if Provorov is truly a prima donna behind the scenes and his attitude is a cancer to the room, but even then, dealing their top trade asset for pennies on the dollar doesn’t make sense.
Now, it is the Coyotes, and their sole purpose in the league is to acquire as much draft capital as possible without every actually getting better on the ice, so it may not be the best base for a Provorov deal, whom the Flyers would probably rather move in a “hockey trade” for immediate help.
Looking for NHL-ready prospects should be their priority in a Provorov trade. The LA Kings have been linked as a potential suitor for Provorov, and a player like Quinton Byfield or Arthur Kaliyev would be the kind of return that would be exactly what the Flyers should be looking for.
Lost in all of this is the fact that it’s a tall task for Interim rookie GM Danny Briere’s first move to deal away someone that important and get a net positive return. It’s one of the many major problems running with an inexperienced GM presents.
Now, The Flyers could just keep and build around him, a novel concept that they haven’t really tried in the last eight years, but that boat may have sailed and a trade is the conclusion to this story, for better or worse. Just have to hope Briere is up to the challenge and there are a few teams around the league interested in his services and a mini bidding war ensues. It’s be the best way to walk away from a trade without an obvious net negative.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: NHL.com