Since the first day of the 2014-15 hockey season to the present, Ivan Provorov’s draft stock has experienced meteoric ascension, so much so that some analysts rank him as the best defensive prospect available in the 2015 NHL Draft.
The NHL’s Central Scouting Service had Provorov, a Russian-born defenseman, listed as a “B” prospect in its initial 2015 report, indicating second- or third-round potential. By midterms, Provorov was the 10th ranked North American skater, and in the CSS’s final report, he had jumped three spots to No. 7.
What about Provorov’s game has caught scouts’ eyes?
“He’s a very, very smart player,” said Tony MacDonald, the head of amateur scouting for the Canes. “He’s a very complete player. He’s trusted in all situations.”
Born in Yaroslavl, Russia, Provorov has played in North American since age 14 when he moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He skated for the Wilkes-Barre Knights in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League in 2011-12 before totaling 97 points (42g, 55a) in 51 games the following seasons to help the Knights’ U-16 team capture the national championship. He then moved on to the United States Hockey League in 2013-14 and was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round (30th overall) of the 2014 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.
|HOMETOWN: YAROSLAVL, RUSSIA |
|HEIGHT: 6'0" |
|WEIGHT: 201 |
|BIRTHDAY: JAN. 13, 1997 (AGE 18) |
“When you sit down and speak with him, you wouldn’t realize he was Russian unless you knew that,” MacDonald said. “He speaks very good English and comes across as a very solid young man. He’s a character kid, and they have nothing but good things to say about him in Brandon.”
As an already mature, two-way defender, Provorov finds the scoresheet with regularity. He paced all Western Hockey League rookies with 61 points (15g, 46a) in 60 games, which also ranked fourth among all WHL defensemen. Eight of Provorov’s 15 goals were scored on the power-play, a definite boon to Brandon’s second-best man advantage in the WHL.
“He’s the kind of player that, when he gets on the ice, he controls the tempo. He is in charge most of the time when he’s out there,” MacDonald said. “He’s got a great feel for the game, a great sense and a great understanding of how to play both with and without the puck.”
Provorov, who measures in at 6-feet and 201 pounds, competed for Russia at the 2015 World Junior Championship as the youngest member of that silver medal-winning squad. He posted an assist and a plus-2 rating in seven tournament games.
“He had a very good World Junior tournament competing against the best in the world,” MacDonald said. “He started out as a 6-7 guy on Russia’s defense, but by the time they got to the end and were playing more meaningful games, he was on the power play, he was killing penalties and he was handling responsibilities of a veteran player.”
Provorov’s maturity and command of all situations in the game figure to make him perhaps the most NHL-ready defensive prospect and a top-10 pick on draft day.
“If you wanted or needed him to play next year, he’s probably pretty close to being able to do that,” MacDonald said.