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Flyers should keep Konecny, Provorov

Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny

Now that the NHL trade deadline has passed, the Flyers’ front office’s focus will shift to the offseason. With big changes in store, they might want to be careful with making trades just for the sake of making change.

Two players whose names have surfaced in trade speculation of late are Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. And the Flyers would be wise to take a really hard look on whether they want to go that route.

Are both Flyers having a down year? Sure. Who isn’t? But that doesn’t mean they should be packing their bags come July. For a team that just traded away its most talented player in Claude Giroux, playmaking talent is in short order on the Flyers roster heading into next year. That’s not to say they couldn’t scoop up some talent on the free agent market this summer, but the Flyers will have only about $8 million in cap space with about nine or 10 roster spots still to fill. In other words, trading players is their best shot.

There are certainly a few pieces that should be moved, but Konecny and Provorov shouldn’t be two of them, especially for the fact that the Flyers would be selling low after disappointing seasons.

Konecny and Provorov are still young, as both are just 25, and were first-round selections in the 2015 draft. There’s still hope.

Konency, despite drawing criticism, is still on pace to finish around 60 points this season and should set a career high in assists. The goal scoring has been disappointing, but largely due to shooting a career-low 7 percent. Prior to this season, Konecny shot 12.9 percent for his career. If he merely shot just his average this year, we’re talking about 25-30 goals.

Konecny is an underrated playmaker who generates scoring chances at 5-on-5 and has been snakebitten when it comes to putting the puck in the net. He’s second on the team in producing shots on goal behind only Cam Atkinson, who is a well-known gunslinger. The Flyers would be fools to give up on him, especially at a $5.5 million cap hit. The most comparable winger contracts according to Cap Friendly are Josh Anderson, Jason Zucker and Jonathan Drouin. You can’t convince me that any are more valuable than Travis Konecny.

Provorov makes a bit more at $6.75 million annually. The most similar cap hits for defensemen in that range are Marc Edouard Vlasic, Ryan McDonagh, Mark Giordano, Torey Krug, Justin Faulk and Cam Fowler. All of them are 29 or older. The Flyers have Provorov locked in at that number for another three years. That’s a good thing.

Provorov may not have ascended yet to a dominant No. 1 defenseman as the Flyers had hoped, but he’s also not being paid like one. Right now, Provorov has the 24th-highest cap hit among defensemen in the league and could fall further after the annual free agent frenzy takes place this summer.

Provorov hasn’t had a suitable top-pairing partner since Matt Niskanen retired. Justin Braun filled in admirably, but he’s just not cut out to shut down the best lines in hockey. If Ryan Ellis returns healthy, the Provorov problem is likely in the past.

It’s strange that a fan base that puts so much emphasis on hard-working players is ready to send Provorov on his way. Provorov is known for his demanding offseason workouts and is one of the most prepared players you’ll find. A fan base that complained that a grinder like Gerry Mayhew was lost on waivers is ready to hand Provorov a bus ticket.

But that’s what you get during a losing season when it seems all hope is lost. Armchair general managers sulking at Brayden Schenn scoring in St. Louis or Shayne Gostisbehere racking up power play points in Arizona are the same fans trying to ship out Konecny and Provorov. I don’t get it. And hopefully the Flyers front office is on the same page.

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