(Photo: Kate Frese)
By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
The countdown is on for the Flyers when it comes to restricted free agents Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. Just three days remain before the team takes the ice for training camp. Most of the team has already arrived ahead of the start and held informal skating sessions and even a scrimmage on Monday.
Provorov and Konecny would be two notable absences from camp if new contracts aren’t signed by Friday.
There was some sense of resolution surrounding these two restricted free agents on Monday when defenseman Zach Werenski signed a three-year, $15 million deal with Columbus. Werenski was one of three defensemen in the RFA group that was playing the waiting game to set the market. This gives the Flyers a market value on a player of Provorov’s experience. Provorov was taken one pick in front of Werenski in the 2015 NHL Draft.
In the case of both players, a bridge deal is becoming more likely with time running out before camp. Both players have been in contact with new head coach Alain Vigneault. Vigneault encouraged both to be in camp on time, meaning new deals would be completed, but is understanding of the business side of the game that both players are going through.
“I have nothing to do with contract negotiations. I made that very clear to them,” Vigneault said to the Courier Post. “I also made very clear that I’m the new coach and we’ve got a new staff and we’re trying to put in a new system, that it would be helpful for them and the team to be here from the start. It would be probably better for them, meaning player and agent and management, to find a common ground and make this work. It would be beneficial for everybody. I told them I’m going to respect what they do. Hopefully they’re here when it starts.”
Well, it starts in three days, and aside from Werenski’s contract setting a marker for Provorov, there really hasn’t been much progress of note. Talks have continued with both players, but that’s as far as it goes.
It certainly is cause for concern when you consider the roles that both players figure to have in the upcoming season. Provorov would fall back into his role as a top-pairing defenseman. Konecny figures to be a top-line winger for the team. With both holding such vital roles, you can see Vigneault’s side to this. It will be a new system and both players should be as acclimated as possible. Being in camp from the beginning would indeed be beneficial.
For now, the waiting game continues. In just three days, it will turn into a training camp holdout for both players as they continue to await new contracts.
Again, it’s not a situation exclusive to the Flyers, but as camp approaches and negotiations reach the 11th hour before camp actually begins, the pressure is mounting and time is just plain running out.