Of all the problems the Philadelphia Flyers dealt with during the 2021-22 season, one of the more alarming developments is the play of 25-year-old defenseman Ivan Provorov. His play has spiraled out of control to borderline abysmal levels. Some end of season quotes that rubbed portions of the fanbase the wrong way reignited some of the distain felt throughout the season. The question of his future in Philadelphia is at the forefront of most fan’s minds these days, but before you give him a one-way ticket out of Philadelphia, let’s hear both sides of the argument.
Maybe… he wants out
There are few people as dedicated to their craft as Ivan Provorov. He’s one of the hardest workers on and off the ice when it comes to training. The image of Provorov crying on the bench after the Flyers were eliminated from the 2018 playoffs where he destroyed his shoulder is all you need for his show of heart. But what if the current situation the Flyers have found themselves in over the last few seasons have beat him down to a point where he’s checked out as well? “Why should I play hard if nobody else does?” Has to be a thought that has crossed his mind at least once over the course of the season. If the Flyers are comfortable being losers, maybe a split is best way forward for all involved.
A valuable trade piece
In terms of trade value on the Flyers roster, Provorov is pretty high on that list. With major holes to fill at center and on the right side of the defense, dealing Provorov gives the organization the best chance to land a star in return. If a trade is the way things go, at least there should be a big market for the 25-year-old.
Deep on the left side
If there’s one position where the Flyers are deepest, it’s left-handed defensemen. Travis Sanheim, Cam York and Egor Zamula are all either in the NHL or hold potential to be a good NHLer in the near future, not to mention Linus Hogberg and Mason Millman as well. Losing Provorov would sting, but York and Sanheim should be able to shoulder most of the load Provorov would leave behind.
Is it premature to deal him?
The biggest argument against trading Provorov is simple- We’ve seen him be great in the past. He was a top guy as recently as 2019-20 when he spent the season playing with Matt Niskanen. He posted a 17-goal, 41-point season in 2017-18. He was supposed to tandem with Ryan Ellis this season, but he has missed the entire season dealing with a lower body injury. Does it make him a number one defenseman if he need a solid partner to work? Maybe, maybe not, but he can take his game to the next level when deployed with a quality partner. Moving on from him after two seasons working without a legitimate line mate seems like a bad idea. If Ryan Ellis comes back healthy next season and Provorov is still in the dumps, then this argument may hold more water.
Who replaces him?
Even with an abundance of left-handed defensemen on the team and in the system, none have ever handled the responsibility as the number one defenseman. Can Sanheim rise to the occasion and handle a heavier workload? Can York make the immediate jump to the NHL and steal the top spot out of the gate? Is Zamula NHL ready? Are any of them 25-plus minute a night players? There may be plenty of bodies, but there’s plenty of question marks that come with them.
Fans love to point to players that leave Philly and find success elsewhere then blame the team for being unsuitable for player development, and with a player the caliber of Provorov, if he gets put on a competitive team with a partner that brings out the best in him, it’s almost a guarantee he reverts to the star we’ve seen in the past. If you’re crapping on him now and demanding he gets traded… be careful what you wish for.
At the end of the day, the Flyers are about to (hopefully) go through a summer with major roster shakeups, so Provorov shouldn’t be “untouchable” if a deal comes across Fletcher’s desk that’s too good to refuse. That being said, he’s one of those guys that has a high likelihood of success if he ends up on a good team. Unless there is a king’s ransom to be had in return, trading Provorov just doesn’t make sense at this point.
Utilize Cam York and Travis Sanheim in bigger roles to end the season. Not only to give Provorov a break, but to see what you have in the cards with the other two. If one of them can rise to the occasion and bump Provorov back to the second pair full-time, it could be a win-win situation for everyone. If that doesn’t work, they may have to add top-four left-handed defenseman to the laundry list of upgrades the team needs in the near future.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: sportsnet.ca