The Philadelphia Flyers will likely begin the 2021-22 season with Ivan Provorov and Ryan Ellis on their top defensive pair.
The two will need to develop chemistry over time, but their styles complement each other well in theory. They both have experience playing top-pair minutes and significant ice time on both special teams units.
The contract numbers of Provorov and Ellis haven’t been frequently discussed since the acquisition of Ellis in June, but the Flyers could end up getting tremendous bargains from their projected top two defensemen.
Flyers Getting Financial Value on the Blue Line
Defensemen around the NHL received astonishing paydays this summer. The five largest contracts signed by blueliners each totaled $9 million or more in average annual value (AAV). Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton, two rumored Flyers targets prior to the acquisition of Ellis, were among the five who received lucrative long-term deals.
Ellis is on the books for six years with a $6.25 million AAV. His cap hit is $3.25 million less than that of Jones and $2.75 million less than Hamilton’s.
The potential drawback to the Ellis contract is the term. He will be 36 by the time his deal expires after the 2026-27 season, and it is unlikely he’ll still be playing at the height of his game. However, the inflation of NHL contracts will continue in the meantime. The salary cap will eventually rise, at which point $6.25 million will not be considered as significant of an investment in one player.
Provorov signed a six-year, $40 million deal prior to the 2019-20 season. He will make $6.75 million in AAV through the prime years of his career. He will be 28 when his contract expires after the 2024-25 season.
His AVV is just under $3 million less than fellow 24-year-old Zach Weresnki, who signed a six-year extension with the Blue Jackets this offseason. Weresnki has averaged more points per game than Provorov over the past three seasons. However, both players are comparable in expected goals for percentage (xGF%) and Corsi For percentage (CF%), two of the most prominent analytical statistics used by NaturalStatTrick.com. Provorov has considerably more games played and average time on ice (ATOI).
Flyers, Fletcher Looking at Salary Cap Future
While they have their top two defensemen locked in at reasonable cap hits, the Flyers do possess two expensive blueliners behind Ellis and Provorov. Travis Sanheim signed a two-year deal in August that carries a $4.67 million AAV, and Rasmus Ristolainen will play the final year of his contract in 2021-22 with a $5.4 million cap hit.
The performance of this expected-to-be second pair will determine their long-term futures within the Flyers organization and the financial commitments they’ll receive.