Looking to make the leap: Ivan Provorov

AP
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This post is part of Flyers Day on PHT…

He wasn’t the first defenseman drafted in 2015 — that was Noah Hanifin, who went fifth overall to Carolina — but at least one prominent draft expert felt that Ivan Provorov was the “best defenseman” available.

“And I think there’s a clear separation,” added TSN’s Director of Scouting, Craig Button. “To me, he’s an elite, number-one defenseman. Offensively. Defensively. He’s got the precision of a Swiss watch.”

The Flyers got Provorov with the seventh pick, adding yet another talented defensive prospect to their growing stable. The targeting of d-men through the draft was intentional. It followed the club’s struggles to replace Chris Pronger, who last played an NHL game in 2011. The Flyers were also unsuccessful in their attempt to pry Shea Weber out of Nashville.

“We believe that you build from the back end out, and Ivan is going to be a big part of our defense moving forward,” GM Ron Hextall said after drafting Provorov. “We’re really excited to have him. Really good all around player, great hockey sense.”

Not surprisingly, Provorov did not make the Flyers as an 18-year-old. He was returned to the Brandon Wheat Kings, where he led all WHL d-men with 73 points and was named the league’s best blue-liner.

This season, he wants to make the NHL, and he thinks he’s ready.

But he’ll have plenty of competition at training camp. The Flyers already have six d-men signed to one-way deals, plus there’s Shayne Gostisbehere, who’s not going anywhere. In addition to those seven, there are the other young hopefuls like Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim, and Robert Hagg.

“They have to come in and be better than someone else that’s here,” Hextall said of the youngsters that will be hoping to crack the lineup. “If that happens, we proved last year that we’ll make room in our roster for a young player that proves to us that he’s ready to play at this level and make our team better.”

Related: For the Flyers’ defense, the future is nearly here