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Ivan Provorov built on a solid rookie season and the sky is the limit

The second-year defender broke out with 17 goals while anchoring the Flyers’ top pairing in 2017-18.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When the Flyers made Ivan Provorov the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft I think we all knew he had a chance to be special, but I don’t think anyone thought he’d be this good this fast.

Provorov just finished his second full NHL season, leading the league in goals by defenseman with 17 tied with blue line stalwarts like Victor Hedman and Dougie Hamilton. He led the Flyers in ice time at a tad over 24 minutes per game and led the team in short handed time on ice by a wide margin (80 minutes more than Radko Gudas). If the Flyers didn’t have power play wizard Shayne Gostisbehere, you can bet Provorov would have pointed the top power play unit was well and added to his already impressive goal total.

Sounds pretty good right? How about for a 21-year-old playing top pair minutes all while drawing the toughest defensive assignments night-in and night-out? Yeah if that doesn’t scream franchise defenseman I don’t know what does. And that’s what Ivan Provorov was for the his second freaking season in the NHL.

By The Numbers

Basic Stats

Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM Shots on Goal Shooting Percentage
82 17 24 41 20 203 8.4

Of those 17 goals, 15 of them came at even strength. Just two goals came on the man-advantage where his defensive partner Shayne Gostisbehere leads the Flyers’ lethal first power play unit.

Hedman (3:24 per game) and Hamilton (2:40 per game) averaged nearly a minute more of man-advantage time than Provorov (1:46) per game in 2017-18. Provorov put up 41 points on the season, but just five of those came on the power play. Imagine if Provorov had that extra time on the man-advantage, what would have been his final goal and point totals be? It’s safe to assume that he’d likely be top-10 point producer from the blue line, which is crazy given the slew of other things that he was tasked to do over the course of the season.

5v5 On-ice Stats

Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
Score-Adjusted Corsi For % SA-Corsi Relative Corsi For % RelTM Score Adjusted-Expected Goals For SA-Expected Goals Relative Goals For % PDO
49.71% -0.27% -0.40% 3.48 0.27 54.62% 101.14

Advanced metrics weren’t overly kind to the second-year defenseman, but that’s to be expected given his insane workload. Provorov started nearly 54% of his time in the defense zone, yet still produce a Corsi For of 49.54%, or a shade below his teammates with a -0.4% Relative at 5-on-5. Given the tough assignments Provorov saw, these are respectable numbers especially with his youth and experience factored in. He was essentially thrust into a top pair role due to lack of better options and performed more than admirably.

5v5 Individual Stats

Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
Points/60 Primary Points/60 Shot Attempts/60 Expected Goals/60
0.97 0.76 1.35 2.28

Though his possession metrics weren’t as strong as some of his teammates, his goal based metrics at 5-on-5 were very strong. His Goals For percentage and expected Goals For percentages trailed only Gostisbehere. Speaking of the pair, they worked to a Corsi For of 53.97% in all situations together with a 56.41% Goals For percentage. The combination emerged as the go-to defensive pair for coach Dave Hakstol and he rode them down the stretch as a result, and rightly so.

Provorov provided a lot of promise during his rookie season as well, but in his second year he broke out offensively while continuing to provide top-20 minutes as a 21-year-old defenseman. He was a warrior in playing in all 82 games despite blocking 169 shots on the season, the 11th highest total among defenseman league-wide. Then there were the six playoff games, including a pair that included a painful shoulder injury that would have kept most out of the lineup without a doubt. The pain was evident on Provorov’s face after the Penguins eliminated the Flyers in that game six, with the second-year pro in tears on the bench being consoled by teammates.

He grew a ton on the ice in 2017-18, continuing a steady progression to the point that he’s the Flyers’ bona-fide No. 1 defenseman in only a few short years. The best part is that he still has room to grow and we haven’t yet seen the best of Provorov, and that’s a scary proposition for the rest of the league.

Three Burning Questions

Did this player live up to our expectations for this season?

We certainly expected more growth and progression from Provorov after a promising rookie season, but to see the jump in his offensive game as well as how he handled a major workload, I think it’s safe to say he exceeded expectations this season.

A year after piling up scoring chances he started to bury them, and at even strength where the Flyers needed scoring help the most He proved to be a stable partner for Gostisbehere as they both escaped their previous plodding veteran partners to ascend together as the Flyers’ top pairing. He played in all situations and drove play despite a high percentage of defensive zone starts and spending most of his ice time contending with the oppositions best offensive talent.

What do we expect from this player next season?

We can expect more growth in all phases of his game, given that he’s a tireless worker on and off the ice. Another year of experience and an offseason of strength training should also help tremendously.

Provorov was able to expand his offensive game in year two and did so despite not seeing top talent on the power play. This season he’ll anchor a second power play unit that will likely include James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick, and Travis Konecny. That should help him pot more than the five points he posted on the man-advantage a year ago.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

Provorov is still a player that can refine some areas of his game, and there were some nights this past season that weren’t good ones. In year three I’d like to see him more consistent on a night-to-night basis. He mixed in too many otherworldly games with pedestrian ones for someone playing top pair minutes. Now that is the case with most young players and despite the fact that he might actually be a robot, he’s still a young robot who will continue to learn and refine his game.


Statistics via NaturalStatTrick, Corsica.Hockey, and HockeyReference