Following a down season in 2018-19, Ivan Provorov was a restricted free agent and up for a new deal. After the entire offseason, Provorov and the Flyers agreed to a six-year, $40.5 million contract the night before training camp, making the 2015 first-round pick the club's highest-paid blueliner.
Provorov, a work-till-you-drop player, was clearly determined to rebound in 2019-20 and prove his worth.
He did and added to the credence Thursday as the winner of the Flyers' 2019-20 Barry Ashbee Trophy, given to the team's "most outstanding defenseman," an honor voted on by a panel of sports writers and broadcasters. It marks the second time Provorov has won the award in four years with the Flyers as he took home the trophy his rookie 2016-17 season.
"It's just a great honor," Provorov said in a statement released by the Flyers. "There are a lot of great defensemen that have played for the Flyers and have won this in the past. I think overall this year, our defense is a lot better. We're defending as a five-man unit, the forwards are backchecking, so it allows us to step up and get the puck back faster."
Provorov, who has never missed a game in his NHL career, playing 315 straight, did it all for the Flyers during the regular season. He played the league's eighth-most minutes per game at 24:51, led all NHL defensemen in power play goals with seven, and led Flyers blueliners in goals (13), points (36), blocked shots (111), shorthanded ice time (189:30) and man advantage ice time (210:05).
In 13 fewer games this season, Provorov put up six more goals, four more assists (23) and 10 more points than he did last season, while going from a minus-16 to a plus-11. Over his first three seasons, Provorov had 12 power play points (two goals, 10 assists). This season, Provorov put up 16 man advantage points (seven goals, nine assists). He has become a bona-fide do-it-all blueliner for the Flyers at 23 years old.
"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet said in December.
"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”
On the blue line, the Flyers are built around Provorov — and for at least five more seasons.
The Flyers have handed out their annual team awards throughout the week. Kevin Hayes was the recipient of the Gene Hart Memorial Award, while Scott Laughton earned the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award and Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy.
On Friday, the winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers most valuable player) will be announced.
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