March 01, 2023
The Flyers are selling but no domino has fallen yet ahead of Friday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.
That isn't stopping the rumor mill from churning, however, and now it's Ivan Provorov's turn again.
Per TSN's insider Darren Dreger, the Flyers are reportedly taking calls on their top-pairing defenseman but would need a "large offer" to pull the trigger on shipping him out.
Flyers are taking calls on Ivan Provorov. Similar to other top 4 D with term, it would take a large offer to move him from Philly. 26 years old. $6.75 mil cap hit for this season plus two more.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 1, 2023
Once projected to be the franchise's cornerstone defenseman, Provorov's game has stagnated – regressed in some cases, even – after his former blueline partner Matt Niskanen retired following the 2020 playoff run in the Toronto bubble.
Attempts by general manager Chuck Fletcher to find him a new partner – whether it was Ryan Ellis, Tony DeAngelo, or a solution from within – have all failed for a variety of reasons, and while he continued to eat up big minutes on a nightly basis, he struggled for the better part of last season and well into this one, to the point where the idea of a change of scenery for the now 26-year old began creeping up last spring.
Speculation quieted down over the summer but popped up again in mid-January when Sportsnet's league insider Elliotte Friedman looped back around to the possibility of a Provorov trade.
"It's a difficult thing to pin down, but to say that there is something going on here, I think you're gonna hear Provorov's name out there. He's got two more years under contract. The cap hit is [6 years, $6.75 million per], which is very reasonable for him...This is a guy who had 41 points a few years ago and he looked like he was gonna be one of the best young defensemen in the National Hockey League, I still think the talent's there, but it hasn't worked as well as it could've and should've in Philadelphia.
"Now I look at this, I think probably some of it is on the player and some of it is on the team. Look, the team hasn't been what everybody thought they were gonna be, and everybody suffers with that. But I've heard that there has been a conversation about 'Is it time? Is it just time for him to go somewhere else and the Flyers to look to send him somewhere else?'
"I don't think this is anything imminent. I think this is something that might develop over a little while, but I think you're gonna hear his name. I think he has frustration with what's going on there and I think there's some frustration directed towards him too.
"But this guy is a really talented guy and I can't help but look at him and wonder if he goes somewhere else and flourishes." [Sportsnet]
Just over a week later and without warning, Provorov didn't take the ice for warmups during the Flyers' Pride Night festivities, the fallout of which did the team no favors in PR and left his teammates scrambling to explain what happened afterward.
Provorov's 23:09 in average ice time leads the Flyers through 61 games, but he has just 22 points and is minus-12 when he's out there.
The skill that originally made him so promising is still there, but at the same time, maybe it's better served elsewhere in a role as a No. 2 defenseman or in a middle pairing with less responsibility and easier matchups to take on.
Whether something happens now or later on, maybe in the summer, we'll see within a couple of days.
Everyone was on the ice for the Flyers' morning skate ahead of Wednesday night's game against the Rangers, including the team's most clear-cut trade targets in James van Riemsdyk, Justin Braun, Nick Seeler, and Kevin Hayes.
"James is playing, Brauner's playing, Kevin's playing," head coach John Tortorella said Wednesday from the team's facility in Voorhees.
Over the past couple of weeks, it's been a common sight to see teams hold players out of games for the sake of trade-related reasons, but that the Flyers aren't pulling anyone just yet is maybe a sign that they aren't quite closing in on anything, even with the clock to 3 p.m. on Friday ticking down.
Granted, the team also has a pretty relaxed slate this week – well, in the sense of time off, at least. They've had three days off in between Saturday's blowout from the Devils and Wednesday night's matchup against New York, then won't play again until Sunday night vs. Detroit after the deadline has passed.
As an aside, the Flyers sat Claude Giroux out last season after his 1,000th game to avoid the risk of injury and complete the trade with Florida.
"I think it's different in a year like this when you're in the last year of your contract, and certainly the position the team's in, that you realize things could be happening," van Riemsdyk, who's been an obvious trade target since the season began, said after practice Tuesday. "So it's hard to fully block it out, but ultimately, again, the only way you can play in this league, and continue to play in it, is to focus just one day at a time. That's what I try to do.
"Just focus on whatever's in front of me and if something else comes, I'll obviously take on that new challenge and things like that, but ultimately you can only focus on what's right in front of you."
For now, that's the Rangers.
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