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Sportsnet ranks two Flyers in part one of their Top 100 NHL players list

It’s the Flyers’ top defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov!

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Edmonton Oilers v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

People put lists out to cause a discussion, so let’s do just that. Let’s discuss!

This morning Yesterday Sportsnet posted the first of their four-part series titled “Top 100 NHL Players of 2018-19” with their first fifty rankings, numbers 51-100. Two Flyers were included, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere, so let’s go over their placements.

When I saw Provorov ranked just one place behind Hampus Lindholm, I thought it was a pretty good spot for him. Lindhlom is certainly one of the best in the league, and Provorov being ranked right beside him was pretty cool! Then I noticed the numbers - 91st and 90th - and realized, wait, there’s not 89 players better than Lindholm are there? And then I scrolled. Yeah, no, there’s not.

Gostisbehere is in a bit of a better place, 70th, but there’s still a few players ahead of them both that stood out as a big question mark to me:

No. 65: Aaron Ekblad

It was a gimmie that he’d be on here, but at sixty-five? Did Brian Campbell suddenly come out of retirement and we all missed that news break? Seriously though, Ekblad hasn’t lived up to his first two seasons in the NHL, where he played alongside Campbell, and while there’s still potential there for the former first overall pick, there’s no evidence to point towards a dramatic surge in his play.

Ekblad 5v5 Shot Metrics

Season CF% CF% rel xGF% xGF% rel
Season CF% CF% rel xGF% xGF% rel
14-15 53.41 3.20 54.26 3.87
15-16 50.63 2.02 48.57 -1.05
16-17 50.90 0.59 46.85 -1.10
17-18 48.40 -1.74 47.06 -3.44
Data score-adjusted and via

He’ll have to show that he can win the territorial battle following Campbell’s retirement to hit that proverbial next level, and he’s just not shown that over the past two years. This same argument can be used against Provorov - that he needs to show this level of play away from Gostisbehere - but that’s not necessary for his success since Ghost is still playing here. Is that a cop out? Maybe! At the very least Gostisbehere should definitely be higher, and Provorov probably should too.

No. 63: Duncan Keith

This one was legitimately a surprise.

Keith’s seen a statistical decline over the past four seasons, and, at 35, I wouldn’t bet on a bounce back season from him. He has an incredible resume, and his dominance during the 2015 playoffs that led him to winning the Conn Smythe is something I’ll always remember watching, but he’s just not the same player he was then. If you’d like to take a deeper look at his decline, I’ll point you in the direction of a great season-in-review piece by Corey Sznajder on The Athletic.

Both Gostisbehere and Provorov had better seasons and project to continue be better moving forward, unless Keith has a Claude Giroux-like comeback season and blows everybody away. Doing that at 35 is a bit different than doing it at 30, though.

There are a few other questionable ones, but these two really stood out the most. It’s hard to say which forwards and goaltenders they should be ranked over, but those two defensemen feel like layups in my opinion. Mitch Marner, Jonathan Quick, and Marc-Andre Fleury are the other three that I think you could argue your way to placing Gostisbehere and Provorov ahead of.

So, what do you think of where the two Flyers’ defensemen were ranked and which placements stood out to you so far? Part two, ranks 31-50, came out earlier today and there will be something on it at some point, possibly tomorrow!