The Blue Jackets on Monday re-signed defenseman Zach Werenski to a three-year, $15 million contract.
The news is rather significant given there had been a lengthy waiting game for the first domino to fall in the restricted free agent defensemen market.
Jacob Trouba, one of the biggest RFA blueliners, signed a seven-year, $56 million deal with the Rangers in July. His situation was expedited by a looming arbitration hearing, while Werenski, the Bruins' Charlie McAvoy and the Flyers' Ivan Provorov were not arbitration eligible.
So what does the Werenski deal mean for Provorov?
If anything, it gives the Flyers and Provorov's agent Mark Gandler a potential framework in negotiations. Maybe it speeds things up a bit provided that both sides can look at Werenski's contract as a barometer for a new deal.
Trouba's contract has an average annual value of $8 million, while Werenski has an AAV of $5 million and will be a restricted free agent again when the deal is over.
The Flyers and Provorov's camp can now try to work within the $5-$7 million range.
Werenski is 22 years old, was drafted eighth overall in 2015 and is coming off a 44-point season in which he played 22:54 minutes per game. Provorov is 22 years old, was drafted seventh overall in 2015 and is coming off a 26-point season in which he played 25:07 minutes per game. He has been utilized like a No. 1 defenseman and played like one in 2017-18, when he put up 17 goals, 41 points and a plus-17 mark.
As we wrote in late July, it would be surprising to see Provorov net $8 million. Even $7 million might be high. But $6 million certainly seems reasonable, say, over five years.
A big question is would Provorov and the Flyers be willing to go with a bridge deal?
Here's what TSN's Bob McKenzie had to say:
Provorov and PHI, meanwhile, have had limited discussions over the summer and both sides apparently have been open to short (3 years) or long (5 or 6 years) possibilities. In this instance, and many others, it doesn’t seem like 7 or 8 year terms are likely.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 9, 2019
A bridge deal can be risky but with Werenski and the Blue Jackets going that route, Provorov and the Flyers can at least look at it as a benchmark.
Ultimately, that's what Werenski's contract means for the Provorov situation.
Now, let's see what gets done and how quickly.
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