Flyers Offseason Focus Starts with Expiring Contracts

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The time between the end of the regular season and the official start of the offseason in June can feel like an eternity for the 15 teams that don’t make it to the playoffs. The Flyers are back in that spot this year, and a little over three weeks since the end of the season, the offseason is stuck in that in-between period where the only news can be internal news.

For all the speculation about players the Flyers could target via trade or free agency, that’s all it is for now.

That said, the calendar has turned to May and the number of teams in the playoffs will dwindle again soon. In another week, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be down to four teams. For teams like the Flyers, the first focus of the offseason is on yourself, the players and moves you can control.

For the Flyers, those moves center around several pending free agents that will need new contracts.

The Flyers have six players with expiring contracts who are restricted free agents. Scott Laughton, Ryan Hartman and Justin Bailey are all expected to be back, but those deals will be relatively minor. They are going to be role players moving forward and the contracts should be manageable to the cap.

The other three on that list are all young players who are due for their first contract negotiation. Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim all need new contracts, and the length and cap hit of those deals will likely determine what the Flyers can do for the rest of the offseason.

These deals should start to be finalized soon enough. Provorov needs a deal done by May 10 if he is going to join Team Russia at World Championships. Konecny and Sanheim will also be at the top of the list for the Flyers.

The deals for the three budding players are most important because it will set the tone for the Flyers offseason and the long-term future of each player.

Provorov was believed to be the cornerstone player on the blue line for the Flyers. His minutes are irreplaceable, but he showed signs of regression last season. It’s not to say that Provorov won’t regain the form of his first two NHL seasons next year, but it does need to be reflected in the contract. The Flyers want to lock up a top-pair defenseman, but they also need to be mindful of the money. Provorov figures to be the player out of this trio to get the most money and sign for the longest term.

Konecny will certainly get his share when it comes to a new contract. He has scored 24 goals in each of the last two seasons, showing signs that he can contribute at a high level despite not having a solidified role. While the money will probably fall short of Provorov, it will be a healthy amount, and the term may not be as long as Provorov’s, somewhere in the middle of a bridge deal and a long-term pact.

Sanheim is the big mystery. He has one solid full NHL season under his belt. In a contract year, that can’t amount to anywhere near as much as Provorov, even with the significant improvement. Sanheim seems like the most likely candidate for a bridge deal, something in the two or three-year range.

The other area that comes into play is the search for a backup goalie for Carter Hart. With both Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot still under contract with the Flyers until July, the Flyers certainly have time to consider both options.

Talbot seems to be the favorite, but again, getting a deal done with one of these goalies to solidify the position and see what remains of the cap is important in the short term.

It remains to be seen what the Flyers decide to do with any of these players and how they define their future with the next contract. But the deals made internally will set the tone for an offseason to come.

The Flyers have a lot of cap space to play with and a lot of that will go to re-signing players. What they have left for the market after that will determine just how big they can go when free agency hits.

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