NHL free agency

An update on Flyers restricted free agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny

An update on Flyers restricted free agents Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny

Updated: 6:55 p.m.

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has two restricted free agents to re-sign.

Arguably the biggest of the two, Ivan Provorov, could take some time for both parties to settle on a new contract, a scenario that seemed inevitable with the way the NHL offseason is unfolding, specifically restricted free agency.

Provorov is a 22-year-old foundational piece for the Flyers' blue line. The 2015 seventh overall draft pick looks poised for a long-term deal and significant raise, despite not looking totally like himself in 2018-19 following a breakout 2017-18 season.

Why could re-signing him take a while?

Because the RFA market can turn into a stalemate as others want to wait and see which contracts are signed to use them as leverage or a framework in negotiations.

Some notable restricted free-agent defensemen still need new deals: Jacob Trouba, Zach Werenski, Charlie McAvoy and Neal Pionk.

Fletcher said negotiations with Provorov's camp have been "amicable."

"I spoke with Mark Gandler (Provorov's agent) just a few days ago, everything is cordial and amicable," Fletcher said Friday via a conference call. "But I think until the market settles out a bit, it may be difficult to move forward on Provorov."

Provorov, who had a cap hit of $894,167 in 2018-19 with an AAV of $1,744,167 on his previous deal, didn't sound worried about his new contract after the season.

"I love everything here," he said in April. "Love the guys and love the organization and everything about Philadelphia. It's not going to be a problem."

Forward Travis Konecny is the other remaining RFA after Scott Laughton agreed to terms Friday night on a new deal (see story).

Could the 22-year-old Konecny be in line for a bridge deal? Possibly.

"Konecny, we've had some good conversations and we'll continue to work at it," Fletcher said.

"I expect as the summer goes on, we'll continue to chip away at this, the market will continue to flesh out as we go and we'll get there; we'll get there by the end."

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What the Flyers 'counted' shows the belief behind their offseason

What the Flyers 'counted' shows the belief behind their offseason

Chuck Fletcher made July 1 less stressful for himself.

As a result, he also made it less entertaining for those who love to see their team jump into the free-agent frenzy and make splashes with the rest of the 30 NHL clubs.

The Flyers made eight depth signings Monday. Nothing screamed or popped.

It's OK to be quiet on July 1.

Fletcher and the Flyers did their work ahead of the NHL free agency period. They're confident in that work. They acquired Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick, while parting ways with Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, Ryan Hartman and David Schlemko.

What the Flyers are just as confident in is their youth. Did the Flyers have enough around their young foundation pieces in 2018-19? 

It's a fair question.

Fletcher's offseason was about supplementing the youth and giving it the best chance to take the next step.

However …

"I don't think it's a very smart thing to box these kids out and take on additional cap responsibilities when we're going to have a lot of really good pieces that are just going to mature and grow through the system," the Flyers' general manager said via a conference call Monday.

Remember when everyone loved the Flyers' prospects, too? Some are here and the Flyers need them to grow. Some are coming and the Flyers will need those ones, too.

And that's what 2019-20 will be about.

Hayes, Niskanen and Braun should make the Flyers better, but the pressure is truly on the coaching staff to round everything into shape and the youngsters to prove their mettle.

"We have an exciting future ahead of us," Fletcher said. "We have a lot of very good young players. I'm not just talking about the prospects that participated this past week [in development camp]. You look at our team, we counted today, there are eight players on that NHL roster that haven't come close to hitting their peak and to having their career seasons. That's the exciting thing. That's our growth."

The Flyers' belief in their youth will be challenged against a Metropolitan Division that has gotten deeper.

The Rangers' rebuild has gone into hyperdrive with the acquisitions of Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba, and drafting Kaapo Kakko No. 2 overall.

The Devils have added first overall pick Jack Hughes, P.K. Subban and Wayne Simmonds, to join Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Nico Hischier and company.

The Penguins are still the Penguins and have gotten younger with the trade for Alex Galchenyuk.

The Capitals and Islanders were 1-2 in the Metro last season and should be formidable again, while the Hurricanes are fresh off a run to the Eastern Conference Final.

We identified the players we wanted to get and we went out and got them early. We felt our priorities were adding a No. 2 center, adding a couple quality defensemen and finding a goaltender to play with Carter Hart. 

When we went through the list of all those available players, we quickly realized there were very few centers and defensemen in the free-agent marketplace. Rather than getting into a bidding war over very scarce … in a market where there just weren't a lot of players, we felt if we could get ahead of it and get the guys that we wanted, that would be a smart thing to do.

- Fletcher

The Flyers will need Ivan Provorov to look like the 2017-18 Ivan Provorov. They'll need Shayne Gostisbehere to find consistency. They'll need Nolan Patrick to produce more like a No. 2 overall pick. They'll need Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom to take bigger strides, along with Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers. They may need to trust another prospect (Joel Farabee?) soon. Oh, and they'll need that elusive goalie stability from Hart, who will be 21 years old and entering his first full NHL season.

"We have some high-end talent," Fletcher said. "We not only have to slot them properly but surround them properly, to create the best environment possible — not only to develop them but to win games. I think we accomplished a lot of what we set out to accomplish."

The Flyers never had a problem building from within. Fletcher isn't straying from that philosophy. The Flyers have done more than they have in past summers, even with a quiet July 1. No matter what, it's still about the youth.

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2019 NHL free agency: Did Devils overpay Wayne Simmonds with 1-year, $5 million contract?

2019 NHL free agency: Did Devils overpay Wayne Simmonds with 1-year, $5 million contract?

Wayne Simmonds got paid … sort of.

The beloved former Flyer signed with the Devils on Monday. He'll make $5 million in 2019-20, but the contract is for only one season.

So it's some prove-it time for Simmonds, who turns 31 years old in August.

"At the end of the day this is a business, right?" Simmonds said, via Amanda Stein of NewJerseyDevils.com. "I got traded last year at the deadline, so I feel a little bit removed from Philly. But you're right, I spent a lot of time there. I enjoyed my time there, but it's time to move on and time to get going. I thought Jersey was the perfect place for me."

Simmonds' base salary last season was $5 million, but his six-year, $23.8 million contract had an average annual value of $3.975 million. It became a bargain once Simmonds turned into a two-time 30-goal scorer. Since 2013-14, Simmonds owns the NHL's second-most power-play goals (74), behind only Alex Ovechkin (120).

Simmonds, though, has been a much different player over the past two seasons. A max-heart kind of guy, Simmonds has put his body through the wringer. In 2017-18, he endured a tear in his pelvic area, fractured ankle, pulled groin, busted mouth (twice) and a torn ligament in his thumb, but missed only seven games.

Last season, during the playoffs with the Predators, his year ended with taking a shot to the knee. Between time with the Flyers and Predators, Simmonds scored his fewest goals (17) and points (30) in a full season since 2010-11, when he was with the Kings.

Did the Devils overpay Simmonds?

Well, New Jersey had a ton of cap space and has made it clear it doesn't mind spending. The Devils traded for 30-year-old defenseman P.K. Subban, who has a $9 million cap hit for the next three seasons. 

New Jersey wants to be relevant again. Simmonds is a name, he can have an endless impact on a locker room and he can play up and down the lineup with his style as a power forward. The Devils have young talent and Simmonds can help.

Is $5 million a lot? Sure, but look at some of the contracts given out Monday. $5 million for one season of Simmonds isn't all that bad of a deal. Guys like Tyler Myers and Mats Zuccarello are getting $6 million a season for five years. New Jersey won't be kicking itself over paying Simmonds for one.

However, seeing him in Devils red will be odd.

Simmonds will return to Philadelphia on Oct. 9. He will play the Flyers four times in 2019-20.

And each time, it will be super weird watching him in that Devils jersey. 

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