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Provorov Earns His 2nd Barry Ashbee Trophy

Provorov's victory marks the second time in his four-season NHL career that the 23-year-old blueliner has won the Ashbee Trophy

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer / philadelphiaflyers.com

Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov has won the 2019-20 Barry Ashbee Trophy. A panel of journalists and broadcasters annually vote on the award to honor the best defenseman on the team each season. Provorov's victory marks the second time in his four-season NHL career that the 23-year-old blueliner has won the Ashbee Trophy. He also won it as a rookie in 2016-17. 

The key to understanding Provorov's value to the Flyers is his completeness as a hockey player and his almost fanatical devotion to conditioning. Where Provorov has very few peers is in being above-average to significantly above average in most every key area of the game. There are no outright weaknesses, as more than one NHL pro scout has stated. 

Video: Provorov wins Barry Ashbee Trophy

Add to his physical skills a very advanced level of innate hockey sense, a quick learning curve and being a self-motivated and team-oriented athlete and you get a player who is very hard to find.

"It's just a great honor. There are a lot of great defensemen that have played for the Flyers and have won this in the past," said Provorov. "I think overall this year, our defense is a lot better. We're defending as a five-man unit, the forwards are back-checking so it allows us to step up and get the puck back faster."

Provorov had a down season by his standards in 2018-19. He did not display nearly the same type of consistency and progressive improvement he'd shown across his first two NHL season. This season, he got right back on the course he'd set over his first two campaigns. Paired with veteran Matt Niskanen, who is capable of thinking the game at a high level in his own right, Provorov both resilient and clutch.

The 2019-20 season saw him grow into a regular role on the top power play unit. Additionally, on both the penalty kill and in terms of the workload he handles at five-on-five, Provorov rattled off one strong game after another, especially as the team surged in November and, later, over the final 26 games before the NHL pause. It's not that he never had a bad shift or an occasional below-average game, but he bounced back quickly when needed.

Offensively, Provorov chipped in 13 goals and 36 points in 69 games; four goals and five points behind his career highs set in 2017-18. He contributed seven power play goals and 16 power play points this season; career highs.

Provorov's second Barry Ashbee Trophy win was not just about stats. He is a better and more assertive player with the puck -- and has deeper talent around him -- as he's gained experience. The same is true on the defensive side of the puck. 

In addition to his muscular strength, the player's supreme cardiovascular conditioning level manifests itself in quick recoveries between shifts. In a fashion similar to fictitious boxer Ivan Drago, Provorov sometimes seems almost impervious to pain. He also led the Flyers in blocked shots (111).

Provorov has yet to miss a game in the NHL. He has dressed in all 315 regular season and all six Stanley Cup playoff games for which he's been eligible to play. has led the Flyers in overall ice time in each and every one of his four NHL seasons to date. In 2019-20, he averaged 24:51 of total ice time: 19:03 of even strength ice time, 3:03 on the power play, and 2:45 shorthanded per game. The Russian defenseman also led the team with an average 29.3 shifts per game.

In his fourth NHL season, Provorov posted a +11 traditional plus-minus rating. In terms of underlying metrics, despite starting just 42.4 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone (the lowest percentage of offensive zone starts among the nine defensemen who have played at least one game for the Flyers this season), he had an on-ice 51.7 percent Corsi and 51.6 percent Fenwick (defense partner Niskanen led the blueline at 52.0 percent Corsi and 52.4 percent Fenwick). With Provorov on the ice, the Flyers had a 51.92 percent ratio of expected goals; the highest among all players on the team.

First awarded in 1975, the Barry Ashbee Trophy is the oldest of the Flyers' team awards. Along with the Bobby Clarke Trophy (team MVP), the Ashbee Trophy is one of only two Flyers team awards whose namesake was still alive at the time of its dedication.

The late Barry Ashbee, an NHL second-team All-Star during the 1973-74 season, suffered a career-ending eye injury during the 1974 Stanley Cup Semifinals. After the Flyers won their first of back-of-back Stanley Cup championships, Ashbee retired and became one of the team's assistant coaches under Fred Shero. At the behest of Ed Snider, the team award bearing Ashbee's name was also created to be awarded for the 1974-75 season and then annually thereafter.

Ashbee himself presented the earliest winners with the trophy. The Ashbee Trophy in the first two years went to the Flyers Hall of Fame brother duo of Joe Watson (1974-75) and Jim Watson (1975-76). Andre "Moose" Dupont won it in 1976-77. 

Barry Ashbee passed away at age 37 on May 12,1977, after a bout with leukemia. After Barry's passing, it has been a tradition for a member of his family, often his son, Danny Ashbee, to be on the ice for the yearly presentation. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year, the on-ice presentation has had to give way to a video presentation.

In the early years of the Ashbee Trophy, a preference was given to having a different winner each year (in similar fashion to the Class Guy Award, later renamed in 1999 to honor the memory of the late Yanick Dupre). Only five-time NHL All-Star Game selection Jim Waton (1975-76 and 1977-78) and the late Bob "the Count" Dailey (1978-79 and 1980-81) were selected as repeat winners through the 1984-85 season.

That preference gradually changed in the years after the Flyers acquired future Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe. A three-time Norris Trophy finalist, Howe won the Barry Ashbee Trophy four times with the Flyers and missed out on two others primarily because of cumulative games missed due to injury. After Howe won the Ashbee Trophy three straight years between 1985-86 and 1987-88, repeat winners became more common.

Howe is not the Flyers' record holder for most Ashbee Trophy wins. Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Eric Desjardins captured it seven times -- including six in a row from 1994-95 through 1999-2000. With five Ashbee Trophy honors, Kimmo Timonen ranks second as a five-time winner. 

As a second-time winner, Provorov joins the likes of Kjell Samuelsson, Garry Galley, Kim Johnsson, and teammate Shayne Gostisbehere as well as Jim Watson and Dailey. Provorov seems poised to win the trophy many more times before he's done. 

BARRY ASHBEE TROPHY HISTORY

1974-75 Joe Watson
1975-76 Jimmy Watson
1976-77 Andre Dupont
1977-78 Jimmy Watson
1978-79 Bob Dailey
1979-80 Norm Barnes
1980-81 Bob Dailey
1981-82 Frank Bathe
1982-83 Mark Howe
1983-84 Miroslav Dvorak
1984-85 Brad McCrimmon
1985-86 Mark Howe
1986-87 Mark Howe
1987-88 Mark Howe
1988-89 Kjell Samuelsson
1989-90 Gord Murphy
1990-91 Kjell Samuelsson
1991-92 Steve Duchesne
1992-93 Garry Galley
1993-94 Garry Galley
1994-95 Eric Desjardins
1995-96 Eric Desjardins
1996-97 Eric Desjardins
1997-98 Eric Desjardins
1998-99 Eric Desjardins
1999-00 Eric Desjardins
2000-01 Dan McGillis
2001-02 Kim Johnsson
2002-03 Eric Desjardins
2003-04 Kim Johnsson
2005-06 Joni Pitkanen
2006-07 Derian Hatcher
2007-08 Kimmo Timonen
2008-09 Kimmo Timonen
2009-10 Chris Pronger
2010-11 Andrej Meszaros
2011-12 Kimmo Timonen
2012-13 Kimmo Timonen
2013-14 Kimmo Timonen
2014-15 Mark Streit
2015-16 Shayne Gostisbehere
2016-17 Ivan Provorov
2017-18 Shayne Gostisbehere
2018-19 Radko Gudas
2019-20 Ivan Provorov

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