We’ve finally reached the end of our Summer edition of the top 25 Philadelphia Flyers under the age of 25. And as I’m sure you’ve all guessed by now, the number one player is defenseman Ivan Provorov. The 21 year old put together a season in which he saw his points increase by 11 over his rookie season, and tie for the league lead in goals by blueliners. After just two years in the NHL, Provorov is well on his way to becoming one of the top defenseman in the league, and with (assumedly) a consistent defense partner the entire season in 2018-19, Norris votes could be on the horizon.
This past season, we saw Provy come into his own after he was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere. After Provorov spent the early part of the season with Andrew MacDonald, in late December head coach Dave Hakstol put the two dynamic defensemen together. The pair proved to be the Flyers “go to” pairing for the remainder of the season, spending minimal time on differing units. Although the strong possession metrics still haven’t arrived for Provorov, he obviously has the potential for it, and should be a positive Corsi player next season.
No. 1: Ivan Provorov
Age: 21 (1/13/1997)
Size: 6’1”, 201 (via)
Acquired Via: 2015 NHL Draft — Round 1, Pick 7
2017-18 League/Team/Statistics: Philadelphia (NHL) - 17 G, 24 A in 82 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2018 25 Under 25: 1
Ivan Provorov’s 2017-2018 season was one where we saw more and more flashes of the special kind of player he can become. He established himself as, at the very least, the second best defenseman on the team at the ripe age of 21. We all marveled at his toughness in Game Six of the first round series vs. Pittsburgh, in which he played through a grade 3 AC sprain in his shoulder. He was the team’s iron man this season on the back end, playing in all 86 games (including playoffs). We all felt a little bit of our hearts break, when we saw the shot of the young defenseman in tears as his, and the Flyers season was coming to an end.
So as previously mentioned, Provorov scored a league lead-tying 17 goals this season among defensemen. He placed 20th in the league among blueliners in ATOI, carrying the bulk of the minutes for the Flyers defense. He took on a number one defenseman role in just his second year and ran with it. This was put on display in one game in particular this past season: the November matchup with the St. Louis Blues. Provorov did not register a point in this game, but it stands out for many as his best game from the 2017-18 season. He blocked 10 total shots, laid five hits, and played just over 27 minutes in a miraculous Flyers win that should not have been. Michal Neuvirth was excellent and Provorov was a warrior, blocking essentially every shot that came near him. Just look at where these blocks were coming from...
Of Provorov’s 41 points this season, 24 of them came at 5-on-5 which tied for first with partner Gostisbehere among defensemen, and tied for fifth overall on the team. He was also fifth in primary points at 5-on-5. Not only is he producing, but he’s a main reason for the offense capitalizing on scoring efforts.
While his possession metrics were average once again, there were signs of improvement. His CF% increased from 49.1 in his rookie season, to 49.54. He also raised his CF/60 from 53.2 to 54.56. These aren’t the greatest increases, and Provorov still has some work to do in this regard, but considering his zone starts this past season it does become a bit more impressive. In his rookie season, Provorov started 52.2% of his shifts in the defensive zone, an already high task for a rookie. This past season, he saw that number increase almost a whole percent. He started 53.1 of his shifts in the defensive zone yet was still able to drive play at a higher rate.
Where Provorov did see a major increase was his expected goals metrics. Coming from just a 46.12 xGF% in 2016-17, he increased that mark by 4.33 percentage points to give him a 50.45 xGF% this past season. His PDO, or luck, did see a rise as well, but considering his possession metrics and expected goal metrics also rose, there should not be much cause for concern. His relatives also saw significant increases with his CF-rel increasing from -2.98 to -0.4 and his xGF-rel from -4.7 to -0.14. Yes, they’re both still in the negatives, but he’s much closer to breaking even which should happen and more next season.
This will be a huge season for Provorov, as he enters the final year of his rookie entry level contract. There was a possibility the Flyers could give him his extension this offseason, but with training camp and preseason on the horizon, it looks as though that will have to wait. He’s set for a massive new contract, he only appears to be getting better and better and the Flyers are going to want to make sure he’s locked up for a long time. Luckily, GM Ron Hextall has put the team in a perfect position to give him that long term commitment. Jori Lehtera’s contract comes off the books next offseason, and Wayne Simmonds could be as well, with the Flyers already having about $10.2 million in cap space right now.
What should help Provorov in this upcoming season is a consistently solid defense partner. After spending time with Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg in the beginning of the season, December 23rd became the turning point of his sophomore campaign. Provorov would be paired with Gostisbehere (a Festivus miracle!), and the pair would essentially be inseparable through the rest of the year. The numbers tell the story for Provorov’s play with MacDonald compared to his play with Gostisbehere. A 44.18 CF% with Mac, compared to 53.24 with Ghost. Provorov’s CF% without MacDonald was a 50.43. If he can post these kind of numbers the entire season with Gostisbehere — which I think is a very good possibility — we could be seeing a huge season in metrics, and point totals for the young defenseman entering his age 22 season.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com, Natural Stat Trick, and Corsica
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Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2018 Top 25 Under 25:
- Intro & Honorable Mentions
- No. 25: Noah Cates
- No. 24: Mark Friedman
- No. 23: Danick Martel
- No. 22: Matthew Strome
- No. 21: Taylor Leier
- No. 20: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
- No. 19: Felix Sandstrom
- No. 18: Tanner Laczynski
- No. 17: Jay O’Brien
- No. 16: Samuel Morin
- No. 15: Isaac Ratcliffe
- No. 14: German Rubtsov
- No. 13: Mikhail Vorobyev
- No. 12: Wade Allison
- No. 11: Robert Hagg
- No. 10: Joel Farabee
- No. 9: Scott Laughton
- No. 8: Oskar Lindblom
- No. 7: Philippe Myers
- No. 6: Morgan Frost
- No. 5: Travis Sanheim
- No. 4: Carter Hart
- No. 3: Travis Konecny
- No. 2: Nolan Patrick