Flyers

Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Ivan Provorov’s first day of prospect camp Tuesday was uneventful.
 
The teenage defenseman, who figures to make the Flyers' roster, says he’s bigger and stronger and the only difference between this September and last fall when he first arrived is that he’s a more confident player.
 
The first day saw some repetition from developmental camp in terms of drills before the coaching staff broke players down into lines and defensive pairings in preparation for Wednesday’s rookie/prospect game against the Islanders in New York.
 
Because there are seven defensemen in this camp, Provorov’s partner varied, though Travis Sanheim was alongside the young Russian more often than not.
 
“I’m ready, I should be fine,” Provorov, who has already played three junior games for Brandon back in the WHL, said of his first game action. “I’m in shape and ready to go.”
 
The 6-foot-1 defenseman has gained five pounds since July and reported at 206 pounds. So what’s different for the prized 19-year-old prospect?
 
“It’s a higher pace now,” Provorov replied. “It’s the beginning of the season. Everyone wants to get going and show what they can do.
 
“I’m way more comfortable this year than last which was my first year. I know what to expect.”
 
What the Flyers expect is a very competitive camp in which Provorov makes it easy for them to say he has a spot on the NHL roster. Because he’s not 20, Provorov can only go back to junior or play here.
 
Several scouts said this summer he’s far advanced at this point to really gain anything by returning to junior. For instance, compared to the other Flyers prospects during the final two days of prospect camp, Provorov showed he was at a level above others.
 
Although he returned to Russia after the developmental camp in July, Provorov said he didn’t dwell on preparing himself to make the jump to the NHL. In fact, he tried not to think about his second full training camp with the Flyers.
 
“I tried to focus on getting better and stronger and took it one day at a time,” Provorov said. “Just excited to be here and get going. I went back to Russia and trained for 6½ weeks there.”
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who observed rookies last fall from the Skate Zone overhead box with general manager Ron Hextall, got on the ice Tuesday with the prospects.
 
Hakstol admitted last week he tries not to think of Provorov in the same vein as Shayne Gostisbehere, who nearly made the team out of camp, went to the AHL last season, then joined in November as an injury call-up and never left.
 
Ghost had an opportunity to fill a specific need. He became a Calder Trophy finalist. The situation with Provorov is different.
 
“It was an ideal opportunity for Shayne at the time,” Hakstol said. “We had Streiter (Mark Streit) out with an injury. He stepped into a role that he was well suited for. What stands out most is Shayne just stepping in and playing. There wasn’t a lot of hesitation.”
 
Provorov said he’s a bit nervous with all the attention but more excited that hockey is back.
 
“The offseason, it’s nice for a bit, but then you want to get playing again,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, I’m excited and hopefully I can do great and make the team.”
 
He’s been in North America since age 14, living and playing in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and then Western Canada. His next move could be Philadelphia.
 
“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “But now, I just take it one day at a time and hope to make the team. I’ll play my two-way game and do everything I can to help the team win. Do that and I will be fine.”
 
Provorov seems very settled in right now. On Monday, long after most of the prospects had left the building, he and fellow Russian prospects Radel Fazleev and Roman Lyubimov sat around having a late lunch and speaking in their native language. Provorov did a lot of the talking.
 
“I just met Roman two days ago,” Provorov said.
 
Lyubimov, a swing forward, signed as a free agent with the Flyers this summer from the KHL. He projects as a third or fourth-line depth player.
 
Hakstol isn’t sure how Provorov will be used in the prospect game vs. the Islanders. Riley Cote and Kerry Huffman will coach the game.
 
“Most likely, we’ll see Ivan on the left side, but I don’t know who his partner will be yet,” Hakstol said.