Flyers

Flyers

Once the NHL moves past the first week of the free-agency flurry, there’s typically very little to write about.

Which is why you’ll come across a myriad of lists. It helps fill the space of a TV show, a newspaper or a website from the end of summer until the start of training camp.

This year, the NHL Network made much ado about its compilation as it ranked the top 20 forwards, top 20 defensemen and top 10 goaltenders in the league right now.

Clearly, any list is always open for debate and where star players are slotted is a subjective argument, but an outright omission should raise some eyebrows.

And that’s where Ivan Provorov comes in.

The Flyers' defenseman received an honorable mention and was passed over in favor of more offensive-minded blueliners like Zach Werenski (12th), Torey Krug (16th) and Charlie McAvoy (19th). Even Provorov’s teammate Shayne Gostisbehere checked in at 17th on the list.

That wasn’t the only snub for Provorov, who also didn’t crack Sporting News' top 25 players under the age of 25.

From head-scratching to wanting to pull your hair out.

In two seasons, Provorov has yet to miss an NHL game while also finishing top 15 in ice time. While not exactly known for offense, Provorov also became the first player 21 or younger to lead NHL defensemen (three-way tie) in goals since Erik Karlsson totaled 19 in 2011-12.

 

In a league now defined and measured for its high-end speed and dazzling skill, Provorov is more of a throwback to the days of steady and reliable. He doesn’t possess a wow factor that leaves you asking, “Did he really do that?” as you rewind your DVR.

Captain Claude Giroux may have summed up Provorov’s skill set perfectly on the first day of training camp.

“You watch him play one game and you’re like, ‘Oh, this kid’s pretty good,’ but if you watch him every game, you’re like, ‘This kid is really good,’" Giroux said. "He does it every night. The things he does, little details and people that really watch the game and see what goes on.

“He’s always in good position, always breaking up plays and making that first pass."

Of course, the things Giroux describes don’t exactly jump off a stat sheet. If Provorov quarterbacked the Flyers' No. 1 power-play unit, then outsiders would likely be drawing comparisons to Mark Howe, but it’s simply too convenient to compile a list in which the starting point is how many points a defenseman scores. 

Without sitting down and charting each and every shift, it would be difficult to consistently measure a defenseman’s play in his own end. 

Hockey-Reference.com, known for its elaborate database of statistics, has devised a defensive points shares (DPS) category, or an estimate of the number of points contributed by a player because of his defense. No surprise L.A. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was tops on that list with a 7.3 total. Provorov, impressively, was 10th at 5.3 and tied with a pair of former Norris Trophy winners Victor Hedman and Zdeno Chara.

If you ask Provorov, he doesn’t need a list to climb, only a steep mountain somewhere in the Russian countryside. This summer, Provorov took his offseason workouts to a new height while saying he actually trained harder than he did a year ago, despite separating his shoulder in the playoffs.

“A year older and I wanted to take a step forward," he said. "I’m going to try to do that this year."

And if Provorov does what he says, try keeping him off that list next summer.

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