BITTER BIRDS
Konecny and Provorov Remain on the Flyers Roster
By Caleb Weiler Ron Hextall is a believer in allowing players to groom in the Minor Leagues before allowing them to show their worth on the big stage. With six cuts to go this year, however, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov are trying to buck that trend. The Flyers defenseman prospect Provorov is regarded as the best defenseman not in the NHL. He has played big minutes in Juniors while also putting up points, making him the best player on his team. Provorov was drafted seventh overall in the 2015 NHL Entry draft after the Flyers' most disappointing season this decade. Many scouts believed that Provorov was NHL ready at the time of his draft, but Hextall remained firm in his beliefs and sent Provorov back down to Juniors. This year, Provorov is having a stellar training camp and has made his way onto the final 29-player roster. The Flyers roster currently has an influx of defensemen; Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz, and Brandon Manning. Hextall has said Provorov would have to outplay a current roster player by a mile in order to make the squad. Most of those players have cemented themselves as NHL starters, but MacDonald, Schultz and Manning have a chance to lose their spot to the budding Provorov. In Saturday night’s preseason game, Provorov not only had his best all-around game offensively and defensively, he also had a spectacular stretch pass to Jordan Weal, which led to a Flyers goal. Provorov has proven that he deserves a chance to play on the NHL level, now it is up to Hextall to decide if he will be on the opening night roster. Provorov is not the only prospect that the Flyers still have on their roster. Konecny has seemingly come out of nowhere to try and cement himself on the Flyers 23-man roster. Konecny was drafted 24th overall in the 2015 NHL entry draft after Hextall traded up to get him. He was a top-15 talent that fell to the bottom of the 1st round due to his size. (Does this sound like anyone else?) Konecny is having a stellar preseason, showing his worth in the Flyers top six. Konecny scored almost at a two-point per game pace last year between playing for the Ottawa 67’s and Sarnia Sting. Konecny was traded from the 67’s to the Sting because everyone believed that he would make the Flyers roster this year, so far it seems like he may do just that. Last night, Konecny played left wing on a line with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. That line produced the first goal of the night for the Flyers and seems like it could be a line to stick around this season. Hextall has some tough decisions to make in regards to some young players because at the age of 19, both Provorov and Konecny either have to make the Flyers roster or be sent back to their Junior teams. The NHL allows teams to have a nine-game tryout with players that are under 20 years old and pending on if they make the roster, have to be sent back to their Junior teams. Hextall has never done that with a player during his tenure as Flyers general manager, so if Konecny and Provorov are on the opening night roster they will be here to stay. My Take: Provorov is going to be a staple on the Flyers defense for the next 10-plus years and I believe that this is the year that Provorov cracks the Flyers roster. He has shown that he belongs on the team and I think he is here to stay.The optimist in me also believes that Konecny will make the team in a top six role. Konecny has an abundance of speed, which the current Flyers roster lacks. He will work astoundingly with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, which could be a killer line for the Flyers for the next five years. Hextall has to decide who to cut and who to keep. Right now I believe that Colin McDonald,Andrew MacDonald, Chris Vandevelde, Weal, and Taylor Leier will be sent down to the minors to make room for these future superstars.