There is much to unpack with yesterday's three-team trade between the Flyers, LA Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets that sent defenseman Ivan Provorov to Columbus (by way of Los Angeles).
: third-pairing defenseman Sean Walker, out-of-favor-in-LA goaltender Cal Petersen, 21-year-old defense prospect Helge Grans (drafted by LA in the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft), the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2023 Entry Draft, LA's second-round pick in the 2024 Entry Draft, Columbus's second-round pick in the 2024 or 2025 Entry Draft (the Blue Jackets will make that decision after the first round of next year's Draft).
: top-pairing defenseman Ivan Provorov, veteran AHL/NHL depth defenseman Kevin Connauton, AHL power forward Hayden Hodgson. Connauton and Hodgson are both heading to the Kings' organization.
Salary cap implications
: The Flyers unloaded Provorov's entire $6.75 million cap hit on a contract that expires on July 1, 2025 (Provorov can become an unrestricted free agent at that point). LA will retain 30 percent, and Columbus takes on the rest. Simultaneously, the Flyers took on Walker's contract, which carries a $2.65 million cap hit and expires after the 2023-24 season. Philly also absorbed Peterson's contract, which carries a $5 million cap hit and has two seasons remaining. Grans is still on an entry-level contract, carrying an NHL cap hit of $847,500 and an AHL value of $80,000. Bottom line: The Flyers do not get a cap benefit in 2023-24, even if Petersen (as happened last season in LA) is waived and assigned to the American Hockey League. The Flyers traded off absorbing additional cap for next season, even with Provorov off the books, in exchange for maximizing the assets coming back.
Both Connauton ($672,500) and Hodgson ($800,000) are on one-way contracts for the 2023-24 season. Both of those fall well below the threshold in which they'd count against the Flyers' cap when the two players clear waivers and are sent to the AHL. However, those are two expensive contracts by AHL standards, especially for two players with little chance of another NHL recall.
Contract reserve list implications
: The Flyers broke even in terms of contracts counting against the 50-contract limit. They added three (Petersen, Walker and Grans) and subtracted three (Provorov, Connauton and Hodgson).
Short-term hockey implications: The Flyers already had a suspect blueline, and yesterday's trade rips a hole even in that. There is no player immediately at hand who can absorb all of Provorov's many responsibilities and hard minutes. The trade does provide Cam York an opportunity to move back to his natural side and potentially absorb a heavier workload. It also presents opportunities for Ronnie Attard and (after he finishes his post-surgery rehab) Egor Zamula or possibly someline like Grans to challenge for regular NHL roles. However, as of now, it's very much a blueline-by-committee scenario for the Flyers. They have to count on a bounceback from Travis Sanheim, strong seasons from York and Rasmus Ristolainen, at least one rookie to step up and for a relatively injury-free season from the blueline regulars. It could get ugly at times.
Long-term hockey implications: For the Flyers, this whole deal comes down to how effectively the Flyers make use of the assets they acquired. The 2023 Draft is a deep one and the Flyers have had some historical success with late first-round picks. Coincidentally, the two most successful Flyers picks of the last 30 years -- Simon Gagne in 1998 and Claude Giroux in a 2006 Draft pool that, at the time was considered fairly shallow -- were picked 22nd overall. Mike Richards went 24th overall in 2003. Of course, there's no guarantee of hiting a home run with the 22nd overall pick, but the Flyers have a lot riding on landing an above-average NHL player when the 2023 Draft is looked at retrospectively.
Additionally, the Flyers desperately needed to start replenishing Draft assets. The failed efforts at a quick bouncback from the highly disappointing 2020-21 season resulted in the organization over-trading picks. The Ristolainen trade in 2021 cost the Flyers their 2021 first-round pick and their 2023 second-round pick. Unloading Shaye Gostisbehere's contract in 2021 cost the Flyers their 2022 second-round pick as well as a seventh-rounder. The Tony DeAngelo deal last summer cost the Flyers their 2022 fourth-rounder, 2023 third-rounder and 2024 second-round pick.
Yesterday's trade was a step toward having more Draft table darts to add depth to the farm system via they 2023 first-rounder and the 2024 or 2025 second round selections that were acquired.
Final word: Considering that Provorov had apparently become unhappy in Philadelphia over the last two seasons and would almost certainly depart in two summers, the time to trade him was now. He's a good NHL defenseman, just not to the level that was touted leading into the 2015 Draft and during his first several pro seasons. All things considered, the Flyers did well in the assets that are coming back. Short term, they may have taken a step backward in the hopes of forward steps as the rebuild evolves. Time will tell.
PhiladelphiaFlyers.com analysis of the trade: Click here
Flyers Daily podcast on the trade: Click here