Provorov signs $40.5M con­tract

Young de­fense­man re­ceives 6-year deal as team’s train­ing camp opens

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Wayne Fish www.fly­ing­fish­hockey.com

VOORHEES, N.J. — Now that’s what you might call wait­ing un­til the very last minute.

Only about an hour be­fore he was sched­uled to take part in his first day of train­ing camp, Fly­ers de­fense­man Ivan Provorov reached an agree­ment on a new six-year, $40.5-mil­lion con­tract with the Fly­ers.

The 22-year-old fourth-year de­fense­man is con­sid­ered the cen­tral fig­ure in the Fly­ers’ fu­ture on the back­line.

Af­ter Fri­day’s prac­tice at the Skate Zone, Provorov said he wasn’t all that wor­ried that some­thing would get done be­fore his sched­uled de­but on the ice.

“It’s been a long process,” Provorov said. “But it was time to get it out of the way and get play­ing.”

Asked if he was con­cerned he might be sit­ting out this first day, as re­stricted (and un­signed) free agent Travis Konecny did, Provorov shook his head.

“No,” he said. “We talked a lot through­out from the end of the sea­son … all sum­mer. Both sides wanted to get it done be­fore camp started.”

Gen­eral man­ager Chuck Fletcher sounded re­lieved to get the deal done with Mark Gan­dler, Provorov’s agent.

“We’re pleased to have Ivan locked up for the next six years,” Fletcher said. “Over the course of his young ca­reer, he has de­vel­oped into one of the top young de­fense­men in the NHL.

“His com­mit­ment to the game and his team­mates is sec­ond to none. He will be an im­por­tant part of our suc­cess for years to come.”

Added Provorov: “I’m happy, you know, here for six years, We have a great or­ga­ni­za­tion, great play­ers, a great coach­ing staff, I’m just, you know, re­ally try­ing to get go­ing and, be here for six more years, and try to get to the play­offs and go as far as pos­si­ble.”

For Fletcher, hav­ing one of his top de­fense­men in camp can al­low him to work on other things.

“It’s great,” Fletcher said of the sign­ing, which had been in the works for about a year. “It was a long bat­tle. Ivan is a tremen­dous player. I’m thrilled to have him tied up for prob­a­bly the six best years of his ca­reer.”

Provorov has ap­peared in 246 games over the pre­vi­ous three cam­paigns, to­tal­ing 30 goals and 67 as­sists for 97 points. He holds a Fly­ers record for con­sec­u­tive games played from his NHL de­but, hav­ing ap­peared in ev­ery game since mak­ing his de­but on Oct. 14, 2016.

The Rus­sia na­tive has av­er­aged 23:45 of ice time per game over his three sea­sons and av­er­aged a ca­reer-high 25:07 last year; he be­came just the sixth NHL player to play over 2,050 min­utes in a sea­son in which he was 22 or younger since the NHL be­gan track­ing time-on-ice in 1997.

His game of 30:20 on Jan. 31 at Bos­ton was the first 30-plus minute game for a Flyer in nearly four years, and made Provorov the sec­ond-youngest Flyer to play more than 30 min­utes in a game since that 1997 start date.

That said, it’s nat­u­ral to now con­sider Provorov a leader on this team.

“From my first day, I’ve tried to lead by ex­am­ple,” Provorov said. “And I think that’s what I’ve been do­ing. The past three years, you know, with ev­ery year, I’m start­ing to be more vo­cal and try to speak up more in locker room.”

A na­tive of Yaroslavl, Rus­sia, Provorov was se­lected by the Fly­ers in the first round (7th over­all) of the 2015 NHL En­try Draft.

Provorov is ex­pected to be paired with vet­eran Matt Niska­nen (ac­quired from Wash­ing­ton in an off­sea­son trade) and that tan­dem of­fers some in­ter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Niska­nen won a Stan­ley Cup with Wash­ing­ton a cou­ple years ago.

“He knows how to win,” Provorov said. “It’s just be­ing able to help each other, play off each other, sup­port each other on the ice all over the place.’’

Like most of the Fly­ers, Provorov slumped last sea­son. He dropped from 17 goals, 41 points and a plus-17 in 2018-19 to just seven goals, 26 points and a mi­nus-16 last year.

That re­sulted in ex­tra work this past off­sea­son.

“I wasn’t fo­cus­ing on last year,” he said. “My job is to be my best, im­prove. This sum­mer I got some rest, At the end of the day, I knew a deal was go­ing to get done.”

DERIK HAMIL­TON/AP

Fly­ers de­fense­man Ivan Provorov, 22, signed a six-year, $40.5 mil­lion con­tract Fri­day on the first day of the team’s train­ing camp.

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