Flyers

'Pretty important day' in Flyers' contract negotiations with Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny

'Pretty important day' in Flyers' contract negotiations with Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher classified Tuesday as a "pretty important day" for the contract negotiations of Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny.

Both restricted free agents remain unsigned with training camp set to begin Friday morning. At around 11 a.m., Fletcher said he expected to speak with the representation of both Provorov and Konecny on Tuesday.

"We're getting to a point where we need to see some progress if they're going to be here on Friday on the ice," Fletcher said.

How positive is he that deals can get done before camp opens?

"That's hard to say," Fletcher said. "I've been through so many of these. I've been in situations where you seem like you're a long way away and it comes together very quickly and then there are other times it seems like you're right there and you can't get to the finish line.

"So I don't think I'm positive or negative. I still think there's an opportunity to get both of these guys signed and in camp."

On Monday, Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski re-signed on a three-year, $15 million contract. It was significant in a few ways. Firstly, the bridge deal for the 22-year-old Werenski opened some eyes. What will be the preference for Provorov's camp and the Flyers? We'll see. Secondly, Werenski's $5 million average annual value should give both sides a much better idea of the market (see story).

You'd think a longer-term deal would be the goal for Provorov's agent Mark Gandler (see story). Has the 22-year-old already proven himself? Provorov has been handed the responsibilities of a No. 1 defenseman and hasn't missed a game over the past two seasons. Among all NHL blueliners during that span, he has played the 11th-most minutes per night (24:38), the ninth-most shorthanded minutes (449:51) and has scored the 18th-most goals (24).

Now that Werenski has a $5 million AAV, Provorov's camp could shoot for $6 million.

"I think we're open to either — shorter or longer with Ivan, just whatever makes sense," Fletcher said. "Werenski is a very good young defenseman and a very comparable player to Ivan, so it certainly sheds some light on where the market is. But we're not wed to a shorter-term deal. If something makes sense in a long-term deal, we'll explore that."

Konecny, an important 22-year-old forward, is coming off back-to-back 24-goal seasons and has 30-goal potential. His role will continue to grow in 2019-20. Proving himself over a bridge deal might make the most sense for Konecny and could lead to a larger payday down the road (see story).

Tuesday was an important day. Friday is a big one, too, and quickly approaching.

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Matt Niskanen's fine balance of saying hello and cutting the cord

Matt Niskanen's fine balance of saying hello and cutting the cord

Matt Niskanen will never forget his time with the Capitals.

When you give hundreds of thousands of fans a parade in a city craving a championship, it would be impossible to move on with no sentimental feelings for the past.

But Niskanen is now a Flyer and playing for a city that hasn't seen its hockey team win a Stanley Cup since 1975. Performing in orange and black is his focus, as hard as that is when facing his former teammates for the first time since being traded during June.

Niskanen won the 2018 Stanley Cup in Washington, the city's first major championship since 1992. The Capitals visited Philadelphia to play the Flyers Wednesday night and held a morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center.

The 32-year-old defenseman hadn't yet caught up with his old buddies. Following the game might be a better time for Niskanen.

"There’s that kind of special connection that you get when you have that kind of success with a team," he said Wednesday morning.

"There’s a fine balance of wanting to say hi to these guys and also you’ve got to cut the cord a bit, too. My focus is playing well with the Flyers right now. But I’m not that far removed from playing with these guys, so if I see somebody, I’ll chat and say hi.”

Niskanen has been excellent for the Flyers, impacting the club's improved goal prevention, special teams units and young defensemen. Some of his new, younger teammates have asked him about winning a Stanley Cup.

"A bit," the unassuming Niskanen said. "It’s not something that comes up all the time, or usually not in front of a big group. I try not to bring it up too much. On occasion, a few times they have.”

Alain Vigneault knew about Niskanen from coaching against him in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers' head coach also heard from Scott Arniel — one of the Capitals' assistant coaches who was on Vigneault's staff in New York — about Niskanen.

“He told me that I was going to have a real solid leader, quiet leadership, but great role model and that’s exactly what we have," Vigneault said.

“Just by the way he conducts himself. If you watch him in practice, he’s always doing things the right way and he pays a lot of attention to details. When he talks to, whether it be a teammate or coaches, it’s soft-spoken but right to the point. We’ve got a great person there and we’ve got a defenseman that’s really helping us out.”

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Flyers vs. Capitals: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Capitals: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Two of the NHL's hottest teams clash Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

The Flyers (10-5-2) welcome the Capitals (13-2-4) for the first of four regular-season matchups between the Metropolitan Division clubs.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• Flyers-Capitals games are always intense and this one will have a different feeling for Matt Niskanen, even though the defenseman was reserved Tuesday when talking about the matchup.

"I was aware of who we're playing," Niskanen said.

The 32-year-old played 390 games for Washington and won the 2018 Stanley Cup with the Capitals. Wednesday will be his first game against his former club since being traded to the Flyers in June (see story).

Niskanen put up 29 goals, 127 asssists and a plus-58 rating in Washington, where he played 70 playoff games.

"We had a good group in my time there, won a lot of games," he said. "Two years ago was pretty special. Good group. ... I’m guessing it’s going to feel weird once I see them on the other side in warmups. For now, try to win the game.”

Niskanen has been excellent for the Flyers, who are off to their best start since the 2011-12 season.

Was Niskanen a go-to guy in the Flyers' pre-scout of the Capitals?

"There are some things that aren't really a secret," Niskanen said. "How their power play runs, for example, I think everybody in the country knows what they're going to do. But there's a tip here or there maybe."

• The Flyers made a statement last weekend by sweeping a back-to-back road set against the Maple Leafs and Bruins.

Things do not get easier as they return home.

The Capitals lead the NHL with 30 points and are on a 12-game point streak (10-0-2) in which they've outscored the opposition 54-35.

Washington is scoring four goals per game, most in hockey, and is 8-1-1 on the road.

Head coach Alain Vigneault sounded excited to see how the Flyers stack up against the Capitals. Vigneault's team is playing well, too, as the Flyers are on a six-game point streak (5-0-1) and have gone 8-2-1 since Oct. 21.

"We talked to Nisky about them this morning and we’ve got quite a task ahead of us," Vigneault said Tuesday. "Not only are they playing extremely well, but they’re a team that knows how to win. I’m looking forward to this game. It’s going to be a good matchup for us, we’re playing some good hockey lately. We’ll be tested and I’m anxious to see how we’re going to respond.”

• At home, the Flyers are 6-1-1, scoring four goals per game and haven't allowed a power play goal since Oct. 21.

• Capitals defenseman John Carlson leads all NHL blueliners in points with 29 (eight goals, 21 assists).

Quotable

Great guy, great teammate. It’s going to be different playing against him. Obviously going to have to keep our head up, we know what he’s able to do.

- Sean Couturier on playing against former Flyer and current Capital Radko Gudas

Projected lineup

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Joel Farabee
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Carsen Twarynski-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Andy Andreoff-Michael Raffl-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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