Updated: Friday, 9:36 a.m.
It is finally over.
Well, one at least.
On the night before 2019 training camp, Ivan Provorov and the Flyers agreed to a six-year contract with an average annual value of $6.75 million.
"We're pleased to have Ivan locked up for the next six years," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement released by the team Friday. "Over the course of his young career, he has developed into one of the top young defensemen in the NHL. His commitment to the game and his teammates is second to none. He will be an important part of our success for years to come."
Provorov, a restricted free agent, had remained unsigned all offseason. Travis Konecny is the team's lone remaining RFA.
Provorov's agent Mark Gandler did well earning his client just shy of a $7 million AAV. Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, a player comparable to Provorov, signed a three-year, $15 million ($5 million AAV) contract on Monday. Werenski is 22 years old, was drafted eighth overall in 2015 and is coming off a 44-point season. Provorov is also 22 years old, was drafted seventh overall in 2015 and is coming off a 26-point season.
However, Provorov has not missed a game throughout his three-year NHL career, has been tasked with No. 1 defenseman responsibilities and delivered in 2017-18, putting up 17 goals, 41 points and a plus-17 mark. Among all NHL defensemen over the past two seasons, Provorov has played the 11th-most minutes per game (24:38), the ninth-most shorthanded minutes (449:51) and has scored the 18th-most goals (24).
It seemed Provorov's camp did not want to go the bridge route and understandably so when you look at the durability above. There's also no reason to think Provorov won't be better in 2019-20 and only improve over the course of the contract. Look at Sean Couturier for example. He came into the league at 19 years old and had his breakout season in Year 7 at 25 years old.
Provorov, an expected pillar to the Flyers' defense, is now locked up through the 2024-25 season. He will be the highest-paid Flyers blueliner, ahead of Matt Niskanen ($5.75 million) and Shayne Gostisbehere ($4.5 million). Provorov will be 28 years old at the end of his contract.
Last season, Provorov said he was healthy but admitted to pressing at times throughout a difficult season for the entire club. The Flyers were asking a lot of Provorov and Gostisbehere, who were confident and fresh off career seasons. Provorov, though, turned 22 years old in January and Gostisbehere was only 25 last season.
"There have been times where I've tried a little too much from a personal standpoint, from the team standpoint, and trying to do everything I can to help the team win," Provorov said in April. "We're not perfect, none of us are perfect."
Ironically, despite the new deal, some pressure should be relieved off Provorov's shoulders in 2019-20. The additions of veterans Niskanen and Justin Braun will aid in those efforts, while many anticipate a rebound season from Gostisbehere, along with bigger strides from Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers. Robert Hagg (82 games last season) and Samuel Morin (2013 first-round pick) are big bodies and in the picture, as well.
Here's a look at the Flyers' potential defensive pairings:
Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers
The Flyers will need Provorov and just about everyone to be better in 2019-20 if they want to reach the playoffs. Last season, the team allowed the NHL's third-most goals per game at 3.41 and finished with a minus-37 goal differential.
Meanwhile, another important piece to 2019-20 puzzle may not be present for Day 1 of training camp Friday. Konecny, a 22-year-old that could bolster the team's depth at forward, does not have a new contract.
Once Konecny does, Fletcher's first offseason as Flyers general manager will be complete.
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