For a long time, the 2019 summer was labeled as a big one for the Philadelphia Flyers. Wayne Simmonds, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny are among the players that will have contracts expiring next July.
One is an aging power forward that will see a big raise and another is the future on defense. By no coincidence, Simmonds and Provorov are the possible contract extensions talked about the most. So where does that leave Konecny?
In the same place as the others — with a big pay raise coming.
Bridge vs. Long-Term
A few years ago, one of the hottest fads in the NHL were bridge contracts for players with star potential after their entry-level contract. They were short-term deals with little cap hits that were supposed to fuel players to work toward a bigger contract and keep costs low for the team.
The Flyers handed out a couple of their own to Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn, but the Montreal Canadiens’ P.K. Subban may be the biggest name that signed a “bridge deal.”
As you probably noted, two of those three names are no longer with the teams that signed them to those deals and the bridge contracts aren’t as common as they once were. Going to the negotiation table is never fun and as players enter their primes younger and younger, paying extra for a 22 or 23 year old is no longer seen as risky as it once was.
It’s probably safe to assume the Flyers would prefer a long-term contract with Konecny. General manager Ron Hextall did sign Schenn to one in the summer of 2014, but that was when money was a little tighter. The GM has largely stayed away from them since then — Shayne Gostisbehere being the biggest example.
The only real reason to not sign Konecny long term is if the team felt he wasn’t going to be a key part of the future. Philly does have a strong prospect pipeline, but Konecny has shown his importance and chemistry with Couturier and Claude Giroux already.
Konecny is a huge part of the future for the Flyers and he’ll likely get a long-term deal that he deserves. But what exactly does he deserve money wise?
Tom Wilson – 6 years/$31 million/$5.166 million AAV
I know what you’re thinking….there’s more talent in Konecny’s backwards helmet than there is in all of Wilson’s body — and you’re not wrong.
In his fifth season in the league, Wilson posted career highs of 14 goals and 21 assists while playing with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Konecny surpassed both of those totals in just his second year in the league.
But where the Flyers can make their argument is in role to the team. Much like Wilson, Konecny is the third component of his team’s top line. It’s probably also fair to argue that Konecny is the third fiddle in the Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier trio.
The counter argument is easy, though, and already identified. Konecny is so much more talented. He doesn’t ride shotgun with the Flyers’ two stars and has already proven that in points totals. The 21 year old’s agent also won’t forget that Konecny is younger.
Hextall could counter that by pointing out that Wilson’s contract eats up more UFA years, increasing the monetary value, but it’ll be a small point against a much bigger one that Konecny deserves more than Wilson.
J.T Miller – 5 years/$26.25 million/$5.25 million AAV
Now, we’re getting more into the talent range.
Miller falls more into the Konecny realm of impact and like Wilson, shares a similar role. He’s the third gun on Tampa Bay’s line of Miller, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Although a small sample size, Miller scored 18 points in 19 regular season games with the Lightning last year, then eight more in 17 in the postseason. He parlayed that into a five-year deal worth $5.25 million annually this summer.
Miller is definitely more talented than Wilson and has history on his side. With the New York Rangers, the 25 year old had seasons of 43 and 56 points to go along with his 58 last season. He usually left something more desirable on the ice, but Miller produced.
For Konecny’s argument, yes, Miller is older, but it might not be a road Konecny’s agent wants to travel down. Five years on Miller’s deal eats up three years of unrestricted free agent status. That wouldn’t be the case for Konecny, making Miller’s more valuable.
However, Konecny does have a couple more counterpoints. He’s more talented and by next summer could have similar production as Miller.
But the biggest argument may be a not-directed slight at Konecny’s linemates. Giroux and Couturier are great players, but they’re not Stamkos and Kucherov. The Bolts’ pair are some of the best players in the league and in most rankings, in the top five of their positions.
Miller’s contract is closer to Konecny’s value but not quite dead on.
Dylan Larkin – 5 years/$30.5 million/$6.1 million AAV
One of the latest contracts signed in the NHL is also a good comparable for Konecny based on talent, age and importance.
Neither the Detroit Red Wings or the Flyers will ever disagree in saying either of these respective players are key components of the future. Unlike Wilson and Miller, they’re also at similar contract points.
Miller and Wilson signed bridge contracts. Larkin’s deal came following his ELC; an important and stark difference.
The point totals are skewed in Larkin’s favor right now, but the two may finish similar in their first three-year totals depending on Konecny’s 2018-19.
The big difference, though, is that Larkin plays center. Most teams will admit that the middle position is much more important than either of the wings and building a strong team is crucial with depth at center.
Larkin is one of the biggest pieces for the Red Wings. The same can be said for Konecny, but he still isn’t quite the level of a present and future first-line center. Larkin is more of a Sean Couturier or Nolan Patrick.
The Flyers can also argue that Red Wings GM Ken Holland likes to pay his players (see Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Jonathan Ericsson, etc.) and he paid a premium for a contract that won’t eat up any UFA years.
So if Miller and Wilson are below Konecny but Larkin is probably overvalued, where does the Flyers’ forwards contract fall?
My estimate is the Flyers will likely go to a five or six-year deal with Konecny at an AAV of about $5.5 to $5.75 million. If I were a betting man, I’d go for a six-year deal worth $34.2 million.