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2018-19 Player Review: Ivan Provorov’s up and down season

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The 22 year old saw some regression this season, but his workload continued to increase.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a 41 point campaign a season ago, Ivan Provorov struggled to find the same success in the 2018-19 season. His point totals decreased to just 26, but he also saw the heaviest workload of his young NHL career and one of the highest among all NHL defensemen. The 22 year old blueliner didn’t have the greatest contract year, but he’ll still be due for a massive pay day this offseason. If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to be a legit contender they’ll need more out of Ivan Provorov, and in this case, less might mean more for the young defenseman.


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 7 19 26 32 145 4.8

As we can see here, Provorov really didn’t have the season we had anticipated. In our annual predictions for the season, many of us, including myself, picked the duo of Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov to have over 29.5 goals combined in a moment of sheer optimism. Provorov’s seven goals were a 10 goal decrease from his sophomore season and his assists dropped by just five. The two stats that are especially interesting relative to last year however are shots on goal and shooting percentage. In 2017-18, Provorov had 203 SOG and an 8.4 shooting percentage. The disparities in those two stats seemingly help explain at least a little bit why those point totals decreased.

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
0.77 0.34 8.7 0.21

Provorov 2018-19 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
47.22 -0.67 -2.3 49.63 1.53 45.52 99.05

So on first glance, none of these advanced metrics look all that great for Provorov. But here is where we delve into his insane workload that he carried all of this season. The 22 year old had the highest average time on-ice (ATOI) of his NHL career averaging 25:07 minutes a game, almost a full minute more than what he averaged last season. For reference, only Drew Doughty, Kris Letang, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, and Ryan Suter averaged more minutes a game than Provorov. The only one of these players still in their 20’s is Seth Jones at age 24 and although just two years older than Provorov, he also just completed his sixth NHL season to Provorov’s three.

Add that information to his zone start percentages, and it begins to make more and more sense why Provorov’s numbers were lacking this season. He faced the lowest percentage of offensive zone starts of his career so far at 42.80 percent, almost a full six percent lower than last year’s mark of 48.35. Not only did Provorov play the most minutes of his career, but he faced a greater defensive responsibility in the process.

It’s extremely important to keep in mind that this guy just finished only his third NHL season. He’s 22 years old and essentially expected to carry the workload of a Norris Trophy caliber defenseman for a team that has had very little defensive depth in his time here. Until the second half of last season, Provorov was stapled to the side of Andrew MacDonald for most of his first one and a half NHL seasons. Then he and Gostisbehere began to heat up, but that duo faltered in the opening games of this season. It wasn’t until Provorov was paired with Travis Sanheim in the immediate aftermath of the Rick Wilson hiring, that Provorov began to find his stride again.


Three Burning Questions

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

Despite everything I just said defending his performance this season, it’s still a no from me, dog. Provorov was expected to take another step forward this season and he just didn’t do that. His workload increased for sure and that can’t be discounted, but at the end of the day he was pretty bad in the beginning portions of the season. He wasn’t making the crisp outlet passes that we’re accustomed to, he would lose the puck fairly consistently on the blueline, and overall he just didn’t look like himself. Could that have been lingering issues from his shoulder injury suffered in the Pittsburgh playoff series? Maybe, but he was still struggling in a big way.

What do we expect from this player next season?

I expect a massive turnaround. I believe Ivan Provorov is still one of the best young defensemen in the league and he has all the tools to be a future Norris Trophy winner. He’s a fantastic skater, he can break the puck out the zone with his skating and his passing ability, he’s got a pretty good shot, and he can be a shutdown defender in his own zone. I would love to see Chuck Fletcher acquire a defenseman with some experience that can handle top pairing minutes alongside Provorov and ease some of the workload, but those are of course tough to come by.

If I had to quantify what I expect from Provorov next season, I’d say somewhere around 45-50 points, and metrics that hover closer to the break even point rather than further down the totem pole. I’m not sure if Provorov will ever have elite play driving metrics given his workload and zone start percentages, but he’s got the tools to really drive positive outcomes from the blueline.

What would we like to see this player improve on?

Getting off to a better start would be nice. It seems like the slow start just affected Provorov the entire season and he never fully recovered. Other than that, I would love to see Provorov simply improve his play driving metrics. I think if he can be more consistent in that department and push play more from the back end, he’ll be easily one of the best defensemen in the game of hockey. He’s a warrior on the ice the same way a Kimmo Timonen was, and his hockey smarts are through the roof. He’s a great young hockey player that just needs a little more fine-tuning before he truly becomes one of the elites.

All data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, hockey-reference, and Corsica.hockey