Frozen Pool Forensics: The Emergence of Ivan Provorov
When one watches Ivan Provorov play, a word which is the full embodiment of his work would be cerebral. Always making those quiet savvy decisions on ice, the adroit and creative passer has morphed into a complete NHL defenseman in his second campaign at the tender age of 21. Forever in Shayne Gostisbehere’s shadow, Provorov found himself in a three-way tie with Dougie Hamilton and Victor Hedman for most goals by a defenseman in 2017-18 with 17. From a fantasy standpoint, we all know his offensive ceiling will forever be capped because of Gostisbehere’s presence and his defensive responsibilities. Regardless, that should not stop him from being held in high regard in coming drafts for his well-rounded production across multiple categories.
Ascending to the 40-point threshold in season two, Provorov is fast becoming a name to covet in your drafts. Alongside his 41 points, Provorov was plus-17 and provided 203 shots, 148 hits, and 169 blocks, while averaging over 24 minutes per night. Drawing comparisons to a young Lidstrom in his second campaign albeit with subdued offensive expectations, Provorov has arguably become the most important defender on the Philadelphia Flyers. Sure, Gostisbehere will always prevail offensively but he doesn’t wear Provorov’s socks when it comes to shutdown capability. Provorov maintained a 40-point scoring pace in three of the four quarters of the season showing that he is a consistent producer that does not go through tremendous cold spells.
With an increase in shots to 203, up from 161 in his rookie campaign, Provorov also found himself shooting almost five percent higher than the prior year. Going from roughly three and a half percent to eight and a half percent shooting is not cause for concern with his goal scoring uptick from 6 in 2016-17 to 17 in 2017-18. Provorov possesses a very accurate wrist shot that he likes to unload from basically anywhere in the offensive zone. I have not seen many players other than him who like to take shots from the blue line corner area and have success with it. His increased offense is impressive as he saw even less offensive zone starts this season. Yet despite this he was able to establish a new career high 1.2 pts/60.
Provorov played with Gostisbehere a little over 50% of the time at even strength while seeing an array of average talent at his side in other pairings. Gostisbehere surely plays his part somewhat in Provorov’s ascension into the 40-point tier but they never see each other on the primary power play unit. 33 of Gostisbehere’s 65 points came on the man advantage keep in mind too. Showcasing his even strength abilities, all but five of Provorov’s points this year came at even strength. Anyone who owned Provorov this campaign surely benefited immensely from him if you found yourself contending for a fantasy title. The last seven games of the regular season saw him go plus-seven producing four goals, three assists, 16 shots, 10 hits, and 15 blocks while averaging 23 and a half minutes per night. What was one of the better contributing pieces on my championship team during the title match needs to be on your radar big time going into next season’s drafts. Provorov’s offensive ceiling is not yet reached in my opinion and while I am not saying he will be a 60-point defender, he can certainly ascertain 45 if not 50 points with excellent peripherals. Yet another player I love for the fact that he shall always remain in the shadows of the more fantasy attractive Gostisbehere, the draft price will always stay reasonable for you the potential owner. I talked about Nick Leddy in this light in the summer and he produced yet another 40-point season in 2017-18, albeit with horrendous plus-minus. Though if you follow my writing you know I do not really account for this statistic.
In closing, I restate my previous musings on coveting Provorov next season. He will still easily be had outside of Round 12 in a 12-team league despite the career year. This campaign, I grabbed him in Round 18. I cannot foresee his price being higher than Round 13/14 still. Players like him afford you the ability to gobble up offensive firepower in the early goings while still providing solid value behind your more premier tier one/two defenders. Provorov is easily a high-end number three fantasy defender going into 2018-19 yet will be attainable at the point in which you are looking at fourth options in drafts. As the Flyers continue to improve in the future with the development of their impressive defensive prospect pool, Provorov stands to benefit immensely from more talented teammates compared to the likes of Andrew MacDonald. Providing you solid production across the multi-category scoresheet, the young Russian has arrived as a quality fantasy asset for years to come.
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