Grading the Flyers, Kings and Blue Jackets' Blockbuster 3
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Grading the Flyers, Kings and Blue Jackets' Blockbuster 3

Apr 26, 2023

The middle of the Stanley Cup Final is unexpected territory for big trade news to emerge. Yet here we are, with three teams converging to come up with an intriguing move.

Here is the full move between the Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, and Columbus Blue Jackets:

TRADE (3-way)<br><br>Philadelphia <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetsGoFlyers</a> <br>G Cal Petersen<br>D Sean Walker<br>D Helge Grans<br>23 1st RD pick (LAK #22)<br>24 2nd RD pick (LAK)<br>24 2nd RD pick (CBJ **)<br><br>Columbus <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CBJ</a> <br>D Ivan Provorov (30% RS by LAK)<br><br>LA <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoKingsGo</a> <br>F Kevin Connauton<br>F Hayden Hodgson<a href=""></a>

So how did each team make out on the deal?

Let's get to grading the trade for each team.

One can understand what the Blue Jackets are trying to do here. This is a team that has been bad for a while, has a wealth of young players at its disposal and wants to start elevating toward the playoff picture again.

Yet at the same time, Columbus is in no position to break the bank for a win-now type acquisition.

Ostensibly, Ivan Provorov fits exactly what the Blue Jackets need. He's 26 years old and under contract through 2024, meaning he can help immediately. But he is also young enough to theoretically re-sign and become a part of the team's bigger picture.

Provorov's best version of himself would be a big addition to Columbus. This is a defenseman who, at his optimal, is worth 15-20 goals and 40-50 points along with staunch defense.

The problem is that he has not looked like that player in quite some time. His career highs came alongside Matt Niskanen, a former veteran NHL defenseman who played a rock-solid game and created the cushion for someone like Provorov to excel. The Russian defenseman is 6'1" and skates like the wind; particularly with the puck.

Following Niskanen's departure in 2020, Provorov's game plummeted. His point totals have dipped, with his averaging 10 goals and 35 points per 82 games over the last three regular seasons.

That's still comfortably good offensive output, but the rest of his game has deteriorated. Provorov had played more like a third-pairing offensive defenseman in 2020-21 and 2021-22. Last season, he imploded. The left-handed shooter was worth -3 goals above replacement, per Evolving Hockey. Put another way, he ranked 179th out of 215 NHL defensemen who played at least 500 minutes.

What's gone wrong? There can be a big disconnect between how a defenseman looks versus how he actually performs. Provorov is a beefy 6'1", skates beautifully and makes highlight-reel plays with the puck. His best moments look the part of a No. 1 defenseman.

But while the cooking methods might be Instagram-worthy, the food doesn't often taste very good. He's been poor at handling the puck in his own end. He creates too many turnovers. Provorov gets beat in puck battles via the forecheck too often.

And while the offense he does ignite looks great, he doesn't do it often enough. He is more of an offensive-zone opportunist rather than a catalyst.

We'd be remiss to not mention that Provorov drew ire for refusing to participate in the Flyers' Pride Night.

Can Provorov return to form in a new environment? Perhaps he can. But a rebuilding Blue Jackets team is taking an extreme risk by parting with first- and second-round picks for a player whose trade value has never been lower.

Perhaps the bet by Columbus here is that, if all else fails, it can then move Provorov again and recoup a draft pick or two at the 2025 trade deadline.

Columbus Blue Jackets Trade Grade: D

The Flyers, under new general manager Daniel Brière, seem to finally understand the need to rebuild. This was a great way to start.

We've already run through the highs and lows of Provorov's game. While the Pride Night controversy was mentioned, there is yet more to the story of how things unraveled between Provorov and the Flyers. Simply put: It was time to move on.

If not only because of the team dynamics, then because he simply doesn't fit the timeline the Flyers are now working with. Philadelphia is facing a multi-year rebuild that will certainly outlast Provorov's final two years on his contract, which carries a $6.75 million cap hit before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

In exchange, the Flyers get, primarily, a first- and two second-round picks. The 2023 NHL draft is deep and the 22nd-overall selection should be able to net them a bona fide top prospect.

So, too, does defenseman Sean Walker. The 28-year-old lacks the same offensive upside as Provorov, but he does some things better. He's very adept at gathering pucks in the defensive zone and sending his teams on breakouts.

Sean Walker, acquired by PHI, is a depth offensive defenceman with some upside when it comes to transition play and creating chances for himself. Could be useful. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Flyers</a> <a href=""></a>

The veteran, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2024, will provide a calming presence on an inexperienced team. Though the Flyers may try to re-sign him for that reason, the likelier scenario is they move him at the deadline for a third- or fourth-round pick.

Goaltender Cal Petersen comes to Philly from Los Angeles. Petersen entered the league as a solid young goaltender, but lost his game in full last season right after his signing of a three-year, $15M extension. The Kings demoted him to the AHL following 10 games with a .826 save percentage.

His inclusion in the deal is the cost of business for the Flyers to get this done and may foreshadow another goaltending deal in the works. It's a low-risk addition for the team. If Petersen rediscovers his game, then they've found a capable goaltender via the bargain bin. If not, well, they're rebuilding. A few more pucks in their own net don't conflict with the anticipated lottery picks in 2024 and 2025.

Helge Grans, a former LA Kings second-round pick, was a standout prospect in Sweden, had a decent first season in the AHL as a 19-year-old and then struggled in 2022-23. He remains a relevant prospect who has upside as a third-pairing offensive defenseman in the NHL.

The Flyers traded a poorly performing player for three great draft picks, a decent prospect and a depth defenseman who will help now and maybe bring more draft picks later.

It's a slam dunk for the new management's first bit of business.

Philadelphia Flyers Trade Grade: A

By taking on 30 percent of Provorov's cap hit and dumping Cal Petersen to Philadelphia, the Kings effectively traded Walker, Grans and a second-round pick in return for $2,975,000 in cap space over the next two seasons.

Certainly, this is part of a bigger plot, with reports coming that the Kings are aiming to re-sign defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. Coincidentally, the Russian defenseman went to Los Angeles at the 2023 trade deadline via Columbus.

In any case, the Kings are on the ascension, needed cap space and most certainly need to start over in goal; both Quick and now Petersen have departed after a horrendous collective season together.

It's hard to grade a trade where the point of it is to cut losses, but the Kings did decent enough work here in the circumstances.

Los Angeles Kings Trade Grade: B-

Salary-cap figures were obtained from Cap Friendly.