After spending last season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, defenseman Ivan Provorov is looking to earn a roster spot with the Flyers.
Provorov, 19, was selected 7th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, and with high expectations, is already impressing both Flyers’ current and past players.
“He plays like he has a lot of experience,” defenseman Mark Streit said. “Very calm, always in position and obviously, a great skater. A really good young player.”
But perhaps what’s most intriguing is how developed he really is.
Former Flyer Keith Jones, who watched his ex-team matchup with the New York Rangers in a preseason bout on Oct. 3, was in awe over Provorov’s potential and maturation.
“He’s 19 and he was the smartest player on the ice,” Jones said of Provorov on CBS Philly’s 94WIP Morning Show. “I could not be more impressed with how he plays. You just don’t see this, the complete game. I watched him almost under the magnifying glass for every shift and he sees the game remarkably well for a 19-year-old. He looked like a 30-year-old the way he played.”
Jones even claimed Provorov will be the Flyers’ No. 1 defenseman in a “very short time,” and that the young Russian is the “real deal.” While Provorov is still vying for an NHL position, Jones doesn’t see how the team could deny him that, stating he would be “shocked” if he’s left off the roster.
“I don’t think there’s any way you can send him back,” he said. “… I just can’t get over how well he sees the game and how he performs, and it looks like he can play all night. I don’t know what his minutes were at the end, but he was at 18 minutes after two periods, he had more ice-time than any player in the game, and he was going up against the Rangers’ top lines.”
While Provorov’s mindset seems to be aged in a good way, his scoring ability is otherworldly, too.
Last season with the Wheat Kings, Provorov registered 73 points (21G, 52A) in 62 games, which is an average of 1.18 points per tilt, and he compiled a plus-64 rating. His plus-64 rating was nearly doubled from the season prior, in which he was rated a plus-36, adding to the reasoning behind the Flyers making him such a high draft pick.
With high praise and a durable skill-set, Provorov’s hockey IQ is off the charts and it’s a quality you just can’t teach.
“He’s very prepared and it shows in his game,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “He skates so well and is very poised with the puck. He’s got a good, long stick that he uses very well. He reads the game very well.”
It’s wild to think that he’s just 19—a teenager. Due to the fact Philadelphia was ousted quickly in the playoffs last season and a youth movement seems to be playing out in the NHL, it would be hard to leave Provorov off the roster.
Nevertheless, the future is bright on the blue-line for the men in orange.
“To me, already he looks like Kimmo Timonen, who was a very good defenseman” Jones said. “… I just, I can’t get over how good he is.”