Last year as a rookie Provorov took off faster than expected. At only 19 years old we saw him taking over last November when he was given more chances. Provorov struggled early on with letting up goals but as other defenders were suspended or playing even worse, Hakstol had no other choice but to give him more ice time.
Provorov helped lead the high-scoring defense right away. Despite getting minimal support from the team’s underachieving offensive end. He was passionate about giving each game his all when the team needs him the most. During games where the team was outplayed, Provorov was the man that stepped up and took over.
He was awarded the Barry Ashbee Trophy which is given to the best defenseman of the season. Joining the likes of former Flyers legends Kimo Timonen and Eric Desjardins who both won the award several times throughout their careers. If that it isn’t a good sign for the future then what is?
Though being rushed into an important role at such a young age could have consequences for Provorov. Sophomore slumps aren’t uncommon in hockey and especially not in the Flyers case. Just look at Sean Coutourier and even Shayne Gostisbehere. Coutourier had a bad second year and hasn’t grown into becoming a point-scoring forward. But in the past four seasons he shined defensively While no one is giving up on Gostisbehere yet, he can’t have another season like last year. a -21 +/- isn’t going to cut it.
So even if Provorov were to somehow face a sophomore slump, fans shouldn’t cast him away. There would still be plenty of time for development. He’s the best blueliner on the roster at the moment. Statistics may point in the direction that he’s shooting too much and wasting chances. However, someone has to take the chances when the offense never seems to find the back of the net.
A new season with other young teammates provides Provorov to elevate his game even further. It would be impressive to see him make guys like Elliott and Neuvirth more than just band-aid goalies. But what else is it going to take for him to get even better? More experience will mature Provorov as a professional. Next season is his if he wants it.