BY BRANDON MURPHY
In a season where he was shackled to Andrew MacDonald, the 2015 seventh overall pick still managed to give Flyers fans hope.
Coming off a tear in the WHL that saw him collect 73 points and CHL Defenseman of the Year honors, Ivan Provorov finally made his start with the Orange & Black.
In a year dominated by outstanding rookies, it was hard for him to stand out without putting up a substantial amount of points, but Flyers fans know just how valuable he is to the team and how valuable he is going to be down the road.
In his NHL debut, Provorov chalked up his first career point with a primary assist on a Mark Streit goal on route to a 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings.
Mark Streit scores and Ivan Provorov picks up his first assist! pic.twitter.com/NjH84bMOx4
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) October 15, 2016
Two games later, Provorov was on the opposite end of things, wrapping up a 7-4 loss with a -5 and a blooper-worthy mistake.
After that performance, some thought his confidence was shattered, but Provorov did not let one bad game dictate his play for the rest of the season. He was lights out defensively and seemed to get better with each passing game. The Russian rookie averaged nearly 22 minutes per game (21:58), ranking him second behind Nikita Zaitsev among rookies. He was also first in shorthanded time on ice and shorthanded time on ice per game among rookies. Here are a few examples of his defending.
Ivan Provorov teaching Defense 101 out here pic.twitter.com/GOh6vawRD8
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) December 20, 2016
Ivan Provorov with a fantastic defensive play on Kuznetsov. pic.twitter.com/sXanoRW6RS
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) March 5, 2017
The 20-year-old played with poise and control, quickly establishing himself as the Flyers’ best defenseman. Provorov will never be a flashy player, but his hockey IQ and senses are already off the charts. His ability to break up plays and quickly transition the puck from defense to offense is outstanding and something you rarely see from a defenseman so young. His fluid stride allows him to rapidly escape oncoming forecheckers and skate the puck out of the zone or look for a breakout pass. In his 2015 draft video, Craig Button and Pierre McGuire discussed his attributes, one of them being his excellent ability to see the play and his precision passing.
Ivan Provorov’s zone exit started the rush that lead to the goal pic.twitter.com/umgj6EeEKD
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) April 3, 2017
That being said, Provorov gave the Flyers a small glimpse of his offensive potential, tallying 30 points while seeing very little time on the power play and a lot more on the penalty kill. He still needs to work on that side of his game, but clearly he is the guy Philadelphia needs on the back end. In an interview, Wayne Simmonds said Provorov reminded him of Drew Doughty.
Absolutely filthy from the rookie! pic.twitter.com/ZZe85Xkf9V
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) April 8, 2017
Special thanks to Sons of Penn for the GIFs.