Flyers fans have been waiting all summer for this! It’s been dragged out for longer than it should have, probably because of the Mitch Marner negotiations up in Toronto. There were some crazy rumors circulating around Flyers Twitter, such as the Flyers RFA signings would never happen, Provi’s asking price was going to be as much as Erik Karlsson’s contract, and upper management hated TK. While for the most part the rumors were insane, even optimists like me were starting to lose hope that Provi and TK might not start the 2019-2020 NHL season in Flyers uniforms. But it finally happened people; Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov have signed with the Philadelphia Flyers for the next six years!
It’s certainly been a crazy off-season, as Flyers fans were wondering if TK and Provi would sign before the start of the season, let alone sign before training camp.
The 2015 NHL Draft was pretty stacked, and the Flyers were lucky that they got two first round draft picks in one of the most skilled and talented draft classes in recent memory. With the #7 and #24 picks, the Flyers chose defenseman Ivan Provorov from the Brandon Wheat Kings, and Travis Konecny from the Sarnia Sting. Both players put up solid numbers through their first three years in the NHL, and they both showed significant improvement from their rookie year into their sophomore season. What wasn’t to like about these guys? They were tough, skilled, and had that chip on their shoulders which could not only benefit the Flyers in the short term, but in the long term as well. While Provi and TK each had their ups and downs, many Flyers fans wanted to lock both players up for the years to come. Several fans and hockey analysts speculated that Provi could be a future Norris Trophy winner if he continued to double down on what made him an offensive threat as well as a solid defender. But fans began to worry when signings and negotiations were not going as fast as expected.
After the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, several of the league’s top RFA’s were (some like Patrik Laine still are) holding out on signing new contracts. Most NHL General Managers were waiting to see what kind of deal Toronto Maple Leaf’s General Manager, Kyle Dubas would offer their top RFA, Mitch Marner. Everyone across the hockey world was wondering how Dubas was going to sign Marner with what little cap space he had available. While Dubas and Marner were each trying to reach a mutual deal, Marner’s agent did most of the dirty work in arranging the best deal that Marner could get. All parties involved ultimately wanted to avoid another William Nylander situation, and risk prolonging this deal as long as the Nylander one went. These long negotiations led other NHL teams to hold off on signing their top RFA’s. It was the Summer of Marner and unsigned RFA’s, as this was easily the biggest talking point in the 2019 off-season.
The Marner negotiations most likely had an effect on Chuck Fletcher negotiating with Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and their agents as these negotiations were dragging on past Labor Day Weekend. Flyers fans were starting to worry if Fletcher would ever be able sign Provorov, Konecny, or God forbid neither of them. Most Flyers fans and sports analysts were speculating that TK would be easy to sign, and that they would ideally agree to a 5 x 5 extension. However, while people understood that Provorov would be a bit more difficult to sign, a common yet mind boggling rumor circulated that Provi wanted an 8 year, $10 million AAV deal. Many Flyers fans love Provorov, but it was virtually unanimous that he was not worth Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson money, even if he was expected to become that Norris Trophy defensemen they want him to be.
But then…IT FINALLY HAPPENED!!!
It was about time, but it actually happened! On September 13, 2019, Ivan Provorov signed a six-year, $40.5 million contract. A more than fair contract with an average annual value of $6.75 million, which is expected to age gracefully much like Claude Giroux’s contract. Coincidentally, Mitch Marner agreed that very same day to sign a six-year contract with an AAV of $11.9 million with Toronto. But TK still remained unsigned.
Somehow Chuck Fletcher was able to sign Ivan Provorov to a great deal before signing Konecny. But Konecny’s agent seemed to be holding out on signing a deal, as he was looking for a long term deal as opposed to a three-year deal which Fletcher was trying to offer him. Rumors then began to speculate that the other players hated skating with TK, and that he wasn’t the best locker room guy. It didn’t help that new Flyers Head Coach, Alain Vigneault seemed to take cheap shots at Konecny for not agreeing to a new deal yet and attend training camp.
How could this have happened? How was the one RFA on this team fans thought for sure the Flyers would be able to sign no matter what, was the only RFA out of the bunch that missed a full three days of training camp because he didn’t have a new contract? With Provi, there were only rumors, but with TK, there was actual drama circulating. Even Scott Laughton filing for salary arbitration was a non-story compared to how the Flyers were handling TK’s new contract. For those who followed the William Nylander fiasco, déjà vu was about to set in if the Flyers and TK couldn’t agree to a new contract sooner rather than later.
Finally, at around 3:00 p.m. on September 16, 2019, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that they agreed to a new deal with Travis Konecny, signing him to a six-year contract with an AAV of $5.5 million, worth $33 million total.
I still can’t believe Fletcher managed to pull this deal off, with only $6,667,421 to work with in cap space before signing TK. This has been a terrific off-season for Chuck Fletcher, as he worked through the Scott Laughton arbitration, signed Travis Sanheim to a great bridge deal, and of course signed TK and Provi to terrific long term contracts. Now with preseason underway and the regular season starting in just a couple weeks, it’s time for the young core to Fly or Die.