2022-2023 Flyers Player Profile: Ivan Provorov

Dec 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (9) against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov (9) against the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021-22 NHL regular season was filled with disappointment from the top to bottom of the Philadelphia hockey totem pole. Fans have reached new lows with the Flyers franchise. Management fell to an all-time low when it comes to asset management and faith from the fans. Players grew more visibly frustrated as the season progressed, receiving more backlash from fans than possibly ever received from Philadelphia hockey fans in their career.

Despite the many obstacles littered throughout the season, consisting mostly of crucial injuries to the team and attempting to finish the season out behind an unreliable interim head coach, it has become clear that fans are done making excuses for this organization and its players. One of the players who has been at the center of this negative attention is Philadelphia’s top defenseman, Ivan Provorov.

Provorov, a former 7th overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers back in the 2015 NHL Draft, has played 450 career games with the Flyers and recorded 190 career points since joining the franchise. Like most of Philadelphia’s roster last season, Provorov struggled to play to his full abilities during a wildly lackluster season for the Flyers.

Of course, a large portion of the blame for the shortcomings must be put onto coaching and the relentless visits to the roster from the injury bug, but there have been plenty of other teams to continue winning with the “next man up” mentality that the Flyers just could not seem to find last season.

Provorov finished the 2021-22 season with a quiet 31-point total and devastating +/- tally of -20 on the season–not exactly what one wants to see from the highest paid defenseman on the team. Provorov is a great skater who can excel on both ends of the ice, but there were just too many holes to fill game-in and game-out for one player.

The 25-year-old Russian blue-liner was tasked with the immensely difficult challenge of quarterbacking a top Power Play unit that consisted of almost zero star talent for a large majority of the NHL season, one in which the Flyers found themselves in the bottom-10 Power Play unit rankings. Provorov was also being used on the team’s PK unit, another bottom-10 ranking for the Flyers, which also consisted of very lackluster penalty killers compared to some of the league’s best.

Provorov is a perfect example of why stats simply cannot tell the entire truth to a story. The blue-liner led all Flyers’ defensemen in minutes across every pairing and special teams unit, which means he was bound to suffer statistically when he’s constantly on the ice for a team that has truly reached rock bottom.

While it is certainly unfair to put all of the blame on Provorov for the team’s struggles–which has not stopped a majority of fans from taking to social media to air their grievances on the defenseman anyway–it also cannot be ignored that the Flyers have a quality young defenseman for their top pairing that they have consistently failed to build around and enhance his strengths while breaking down his weaknesses. Flyers management over the years seem to have tried very hard to do the opposite of properly developing all of their best talent in recent years.

Even after losing Ryan Ellis very early in the year, and playing the majority of the season without an actual top 4 defenseman to his right side, Provorov was still able to show glimpses of greatness, particularly when first being paired up with Cam York, as well as in the final stretch of the season in April. Cam York, while inexperienced in the NHL, was able to play on the top unit next to Provorov as a puck-moving defenseman who could relieve certain pressures for the Russian defender and allow space to open up on the ice for the rest of the team.

York was eventually injured and sidelined, but Provorov was able to show just what he is capable of when the Flyers provide him with a partner that can also move the puck within their own zone. It allowed Provorov to be more dangerous and effective off-puck, like we saw in the month of April when he scored almost half of his season total in points in just a single month of a very long season.

So what have the Flyers front office done to aid Provorov and sure up the top defensive pairing for this upcoming season?

With Ryan Ellis’s injury keeping him sidelined well into the foreseeable future, GM Chuck Fletcher decided to bring in Tony DeAngelo from the Carolina Hurricanes. He will presumably play alongside Ivan Provorov for all or most of the 2022-23 season.

While DeAngelo is not exactly a great acquisition to patch up Philadelphia’s struggles in the defensive zone, his puck-moving, skating, and scoring abilities do make him a nice fit for what the team lacks on the Power Play while also allowing DeAngelo to relieve pressure from Provorov in their own zone and from the point while on the attack.

Assuming the top pairing remains healthy, this could be a major season for Provorov in terms of offensive growth and point production. However, it is important to note that Philadelphia is once again adjusting to a new coaching system under veteran head coach, John Tortorella.

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Tortorella is, no doubt, an improvement for this team as he will hold his players accountable for their mistakes and ensure they clean up the sloppiness on defense that fans saw on a nightly basis last season. The defense, and team as a whole, will eventually look better under Torts, but there is still expected to be an adjustment period, especially since the team will still be missing the likes of Ryan Ellis, Joel Farabee and Bobby Brink.

Keep a close eye on Provorov throughout the 2022-2023 NHL season as he gets adjusted to Tortotella’s system and his new partner, Tony DeAngelo. This could be the year fans finally stop yelling at management to trade a young defenseman who is entering prime years of his career and get the see their potential come to fruition before being traded to a different team.