Phil Myers signed a three-year contract extension Tuesday that carries an annual $2.55-million cap hit, and he will get an opportunity to show if he can play on the first pairing with Ivan Provorov, the Flyers’ top defenseman.
Myers, 23, would welcome the challenge.
“It would be an honor to play with someone like him,” Myers said from his home in Moncton, New Brunswick, on Monday night. “He thinks the game well, he makes good plays, defends well. I mean, you can’t go wrong playing with a guy like that.”
Provorov, 23, likes what the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Myers, who had a quality rookie season in 2019-20, brings to the table.
“He’s a big guy, moves really well and has a great reach,” Provorov said after going through a workout session last week in Voorhees. “He moves the puck and is able to shoot it well, too. If we play together, it shouldn’t take us long to get used to playing together. When the season starts, we’ll see what happens.”
Myers, who was restricted free agent, had 16 points and a plus-17 rating in 50 games as a rookie last season. The Flyers rewarded him with the extension Tuesday,
“It’s nice for Phil to get a little security,” said Doug Shepherd, Myers’ agent.
“We look forward to his continued growth,” general manager Chuck Fletcher said.
As for Provorov, he needs a new partner because Matt Niskanen, a veteran with a righthanded shot, unexpectedly retired after last season.
Myers played on the second pairing last season with Travis Sanheim, and they worked extremely well together, though they struggled against the relentless New York Islanders in the playoffs.
Since Myers is righthanded, it seems natural that he would be promoted to fill Niskanen’s spot and become Provorov’s partner. Myers and Provorov were paired together in shifts here and there last season; they were together for just one full game, and leave it to Provorov, a student of the sport, to pinpoint it off the top of his head.
“It was Dec. 21, I believe, and we were playing Ottawa and Nisky was out with the flu,” said Provorov, whose memory was impeccable. “I think Phil was a little under the weather, too.”
“I can’t exactly tell you how it went,” Provorov added with a chuckle, “but nothing bad happened, so that’s a good thing.”
Provorov was plus-1 and had three hits in the 5-4 shootout win over the Senators, while Myers was plus-2 and had an assist and two hits. Myers recalled that he and Niskanen both had the flu and it was 50/50 if they could play.
“Nisky came up to me in warm-ups and said, ‘Are you ready to go? If you are, I’m sitting out,’ " Myers said.
“Hell yeah, I’m good,” Myers said.
In the offseason, Provorov and Myers have been spending their days on the ice and in the weight room.
Provorov has been working out at the team’s Voorhees practice facility for the last two months and is eager to start the season.
Myers has been in the gym almost daily and skating with a university team in New Brunswick three to five times a week. “I’m trying to ramp it up a little bit before the season starts,” he said. “I’m excited to win with these guys this year.”
Provorov, whose team won its first playoff series last season since 2012, echoed those sentiments.
“I want to get out there with the boys again and build off what we had last year,” he said. “Hopefully we can start camp soon and get going.”
At camp, filling Niskanen’s spot will be among the team’s most interesting decisions.
“I’m sure the coaches will want to try a few things in camp and at the start of the season,” Provorov said. “But all the D on this roster are capable. Everyone skates well and moves the puck well. It shouldn’t take a long time to get used to a new partner for me or anyone else.”
“We’re not the ones who decide who plays together,” Myers said. “I’ll be happy to play with whoever. If I’m with Sanny, I’ll be happy, and if I’m with Provy, I’ll be just as happy. It’s a win-win, no matter how you look at it.”