There are two truths that Flyers fans need to reconcile before the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, which begins in Sunrise, Fla. on Friday, June 26. And that is: 1) The Flyers own four solid defensive prospects in Travis Sanheim, Shane Gostisbehere, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg; and 2) If Ivan Provorov is available when the Flyers are on the clock at seven, they absolutely and unequivocally must make him their first selection.
While I am aware of the organizational need for wingers, and more broadly, the need for quality offensive prospects in the farm system, there is no way that the Flyers can pass on Provorov – if he is available, that is. Some recent mock drafts have him going at four to Toronto or at five to Carolina. New Jersey is desperate for offensive prospects, but even so, they may also jump on Provorov if he’s available.
He’s that good.
Provorov has no holes in his game. He is deadly with the puck, because he has such amazing vision and a high hockey IQ. His offensive game has caught the attention of pro scouts. He makes crisp, accurate passes, he is not shy about joining the rush – as evidenced by his 15 goals and 61 points in 60 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – and he’s got a cannon of a shot from the point. At 6’1” and 201, Provorov plays a physical game and he can use his strength and his size to his advantage. He has exceptional positional awareness and is a very strong defender.
SCOUTING REPORT (via Elite Prospects)
“An offensively gifted defenseman who can direct the game’s pace when the puck is on his stick. Provorov is a quick and agile skater with an accurate release on his shot, which he can get off anywhere below the blue line; creates many chances on the power play and can even create offense during the penalty kill. Is an adroit and creative passer who knows how to use his teammates well. All-in-all, a complete defenseman who knows how goals are scored and executes accordingly.”
ACCOLADES (via NHL.com)
“In 2014-15, Provorov paced all rookies and finished fourth among Western Hockey League defensemen with 61 points (15-46—61) in 60 games. He added 13 points (2-11—13) in 19 postseason games, helping Brandon advance to the WHL Championship Series, where they fell to Kelowna
Provorov was the youngest member of Russia’s silver medal-winning entry at the 2015 World Junior Championship, chipping in one assist and a plus-2 rating. His international resume also includes an appearance at the 2014 Under-18 World Junior Championship.
Provorov played in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl system in Russia before joining the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Knights in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League in 2011-12. The following season, he compiled 97 points (42-55—97) in 51 games to help the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights under-16 team win the national championship.
He skated with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders in the United States Hockey League in 2013-14 before being selected by the Wheat Kings in the first round (30th overall) of the 2014 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
He and defense partner Ryan Pilon (No. 24 NA Skater) live in the same house, billeted by Sonya and Ralph Kampe.”
DRAFT DAY DECISION
The Flyers will certainly have a tough decision in front of them on Friday night. After all, selecting Provorov means they will be passing on skilled wingers like Mikko Rantanan, the top ranked (CSS) European skater, and power forward Lawson Crouse, whose playing style has been compared to Cam Neely and Eric Lindros, and who is a prototypical Flyer.
According to Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Flyers “covet” Provorov. One scout predicted that “if Provorov is still available when the Flyers select at No. 7, that he ‘unequivocally’ will be heading to Philadelphia.”
Here is the way we see the first seven picks going down. (Or maybe this is the way we hope it goes down.)
- McDavid – EDM
- Eichel – BUF
- Hanifin – ARI
- Strome – TOR
- Marner – CAR
- Rantanen – N.J.
- Provorov – PHI
If Provorov is taken with picks 4, 5 or 6, my choice would be to take Rantanen. That is not exactly a consolation prize, as Rantanen is projecting to be an impact offensive player that can play left and right wing. Check out our profile of Rantanen here.
If New Jersey goes with Barzal, the Flyers will have a choice of Provorov or Rantanen. That will be quite the conundrum. But here’s the thing: apart from McDavid and Eichel going 1-2, nothing is guaranteed. There has been a mock draft where Hanifin went to the Flyers at seven. There are scenarios where the Flyers might be able to trade up or down.
For instance, Arizona GM Don Maloney has claimed to have two firm offers for the number three pick, with Arizona moving back from three to “in the top 10.” Many have speculated that the Flyers are one of the two offers. Given Hextall’s vision for the team, that scenario is highly unlikely. (As an aside, if the Flyers made a move down to the third spot, I would want them to pick Strome or Marner.)
If the Flyers believe, as many do, that picks 3-10 have parity and are all really close, the Flyers should see if Columbus, San Jose or Colorado would want to move up. In that scenario, the players in the Flyers’ crosshairs would be Kyle Connor, Zach Werenski and Pavel Zacha, who the Flyers are reportedly very interested in.
Look – it’s all conjecture at this point.
The only thing that we do know is that when Ron Hextall walks to the podium at the BB&T Center on Friday around 8:00pm, the name we want to hear him call is Ivan Provorov.