Maybe it's a little crazy that just months after being drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ivan Provorov has jumped ahead of his older, more experienced counterparts on our ranking of team prospects.
Samuel Morin? Provorov's higher. Travis Sanheim? Higher. Shayne Gostisbehere? Robert Hagg?
3. Ivan Provorov
Yeah, Provorov is the highest-ranked prospect on defense according to our little ranking here, and there's a lot of reason for that. At just 18, Provorov has a whole lot going for him -- he's a wonderfully gifted two-way defenseman, and the word used to describe him most often is "complete."
For an 18 year old who has played one year of major junior hockey, that's a word that leaves an impression.
When we talk about Travis Sanheim, who went in the first round of the 2014 draft to the Flyers and the player who ranked No. 4 on this list, we talk about his straight-to-the-NHL potential and his offensive breakout a year ago in the WHL. We said yesterday: "Sanheim took the proverbial leap, becoming one of the most productive offensive defensemen in the entire CHL."
And whenever I think of that in comparison to Provorov, I always come back to this paragraph from Scott Wheeler:
Statistically, [Provorov] stands out from the pack. In fact, Provorov's 0.95 age adjusted points per game (aaPPG) ranked first in the WHL this season, ahead of Anaheim's Shea Theodore (0.89), Detroit's Joe Hicketts (0.88), and Philadelphia's Travis Sanheim (0.83).
Sanheim's offensive breakout in 2014-15 is a big reason why we think he's so damn capable of playing in the NHL in the very near future. Provorov's 2014-15 was better than Sanheim's. So, you know. On top of that, Provorov has a great shot, great speed, and has proven to be one of the better players in junior hockey -- whether that's at the World Juniors or in the WHL -- at such a young age. Here was what McKeen's (in print) had to say about him before the draft:
Strong multi-tooled shooter. Wrist shot releases quickly, and is hard and accurate even from a distance. Great shot from the point. Waits for the opening and keeps it low and on target through traffic. The best all-around defenceman in the draft and most NHL ready.
When it comes to 2015-16, there's good reason to think that Provorov has the best chance of any young defenseman to make the Flyers roster, for all of the reasons above. There are other factors involved there -- most notably, the fact that the Flyers have more than enough NHL defenseman under contract -- but that's the player the Flyers have here.
With Provorov, it's not really a question of when or if he'll be an impact NHL player. We can split the hairs of whether he'll be with the Flyers in 2015-16 or the following season, or even in two years, but we can pretty safely say this guy is going to be an impact player on the Flyers for years to come. The questions get fun when we talk about just what his impact will be -- does he top out as a top defenseman, or at least a top pairing defenseman? Does he flame out -- and by that we mean he turns into a fifth or sixth defenseman, kind of in the mold of a Luke Schenn?
He's 18 years old, and there's still a lot to play out with him and a lot we can't predict. But Provorov's ceiling is as high as it gets, and it's going to be fun to watch him climb the ladder.
How we voted for Ivan Provorov:
Who we voted for at No. 3:
|Ivan Provorov||Scott Laughton||Brayden Schenn||Ivan Provorov||Scott Laughton||Ivan Provorov||Ivan Provorov||Brayden Schenn||Scott Laughton||Shayne Gostisbehere||Ivan Provorov||Scott Laughton|