In the fall, I asked an NHL scout about the CHL’s western league and was informed it was a ‘down year’ and there might not be a Top 10 overall selection in the WHL. Six months later? Ivan Provorov has changed the landscape.


First, the speed and skill. Ivan Provorov is a tremendous talent with the puck as reflected in the 44 seconds to daylight above. Great skater, outstanding vision and an ability to make people miss: A dynamite combination. Early on, he began to move up the charts:

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Provorov began gaining steam out of the box and his offense by month reflects his quick start and overall dominance:

  • September: 4GP, 1-3-4
  • October: 13GP, 7-8-15
  • November: 11GP, 0-11-11
  • December: 7GP, 2-5-7
  • January: 10GP, 1-11-12
  • February: 6GP, 3-3-6
  • March: 1GP, 0-0-0

    • Cody Nickolet, WHL From Above: Provorov does a bit of everything on the
      ice and does it all well. While not being an extremely explosive player, he
      doesn’t have many weaknesses. He’s smart, he skates well, he moves the puck
      hard and accurately and he can play in any situation you put him in. He also
      has shown an increased edge in his game the last few times I’ve seen him,
      although I don’t project him to ever be a big bruiser on the blueline. Think of
      a guy like Mark Giordano. I think the two play a similar style and offer up
      many of the same attributes. Source

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    I think Noah Hanifin will be the first defenseman off the board but it’s interesting to note that Craig Button—whose list is fascinating if not the industry standard—ranks Provorov as the top defender in the draft. Bob McKenzie’s mid-season list—the Bible of the draft—ranked Provorov as the No. 12 prospect in 2015. 

    Previously in the series:

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    • 719

      Hanafin is MOAR biggar!!

      Seriously though I like Provorov’s game. Would be a solid choice at 6 or 7, don’t think he will go before Hanafin despite what Mr. Button thinks.

    • toprightcorner

      unless its McEichel I just hope were not using that first pick. Hanifin might or might not help in 4-5 years(college dman scare the crap out of me now that I’ve seen Jultz) and whats the point of having Strome and Draisaitl?? The hype over the top end this year is gonna be big on draft day. Please for the love of all things holy trade that pick for some immediate help on the blue line!!

      • 719

        Sure, use the pick to trade for elite NHL talent. Definitive impact players.

        There’s just one catch. Most of those guys have no-trade clauses.

        Not saying it can’t be done, but it’s not easy.

      • Reg Dunlop


        Betman hates the Oilers.

        He gifted them 3 first overall picks a few years ago to save the franchise, only to be repaid with crap hockey, continual tanking and ruined careers of talented prospects.

        He will get his ultimate revenge if the Flames miss the playoffs by winning the Flames the 1% draft lottery!!!!!


      • Reg Dunlop

        I must agree with your Hanifin concerns but’whats the point of having Strome and Draisaitl?’ Do you not see any chance that Leon may be a tad over-rated? You don’t see a problem with his skating and mobility? You see a problem with having depth at center? I think Strome is our likely selection and I am JUST FINE with that. My biggest fear is the oil finish 28th and the Leafs win the lotto leaving us with the 4th pick. If Strome goes 3rd, what happens? Do we choose an American collegian or another tiny winger? Or can mgmt be trusted to deal that pick?

      • Interesting comment about players from college. I’ve always wondered if these guys numbers get skewed. They play less games in a season than junior but the players are older than junior.

        I’ve always had a bias in thinking CHL kids are more rounded and are better prospects than NCAA. Anyone else feel this way? CHL in my mind is a tougher league and plays a similar long, grinding out season like the NHL.

        That’s why hanifin scares me.

      • Chainsawz

        The point of having Strome and Draisaitl is that the best case scenario for the Oilers being a playoff team is beyond the time Nugie has moved on as an UFA.

        Hope that wasn’t overly pessimistic.

      • 719

        No offense, but I always hear about these “trade up” fantasies before drafts and it never never never happens…not to this extent. Two second rounders and a late first rounder aren’t worth a top 10 pick.

    • toprightcorner

      Reminds me of a Paul Coffey rush. He is a guy I would really consider at 5-6. The Oilers definitely need an offensive dman that can also play solid defense. He will Be what we all hoped Schultz would be.

    • PlayDirty

      Ivan has a lot of fans in Brandon. I just call him a real good solid d-man. Nothing flashy but in my eye he’s solid, a smooth skater that plays smart and handles the puck well. I like how plays the blue line by making himself available and always seems to get a shot on net. That’s my opinion anyway. I think he’s probably at an appropriate position in the rankings. I’m a big fan.

      Unfortunately I think we might have to do better where we’ll be drafting. But I do think he’d be a very valuable part of our team when he’s, say… 27.

      But, you know.

      • PlayDirty

        But I gotta ask because I genuinely don’t know. This guy puts up crazy points. Compared to some of other great defensemen drafted in the past while, he’s actually quite unreal. And by all accounts he’s defensively responsible. And he’s no pushover either. So other than being a bit smaller than the ideal top five draft pick (but definitely not a shrimp) what is really the problem?

        • PlayDirty

          I’d have no problem taking him if we are set on a d-man. When I said “I think we might have to do more”, that was more about taking someone with a little more fanfare to satisfy those that know better.

          I don’t claim to be an expert but I think because he’s a rookie in the dub (I guess that’s common) and playing on a really good team (expected to get even better over the next couple of years) there might be some hesitancy?

          Maybe we could be talking about him like we talk about Nurse/Klefbom in three years? That would be nice, but it’s three more years away.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      The only player that shouldn’t go back to jr or college is mcdavid. The Oilers need help now, if the opportunity presents itself to trade the 2-5 pick for a top 2 dman I’d hope mact does his job and makes this team better.

      Any pick after mcdavid is 2-3 years away from really helping this team. The oilers need to be better NOW(in oct).

    • YakCity1039

      “…it’s interesting to note that Craig Button—whose list is fascinating if not the industry standard—…” NO. NO IT’S NOT. NOBODY should be following Craig Button’s list. The guys had Matt Dumba 1st overall back in 2011. I don’t think anybody should even look at his list when making draft selections.

      • Keg on Legs

        This is why he is on TV, not a GM anymore, but Provorov is intriguing, and what was the name of the big Russian kid who went undrafted last year, he also looked very impressive.
        Just sayin

    • DoubleDIon

      He’s seriously good. Best whl defenseman I’ve seen since Phaneuf was in red deer. So tough to project blue liners, but in my 5 or 6 viewings the giordano comparison is legitimate.

    • PlayDirty

      Lets play arm chair g.m cuz it’s fun. How unrealistic is this trade

      3rd overall pick, Pitts 1st pick, Schultz & Marincin to Arz for OEL

      Coyotes could walk away with there new yandle(Jultz) a younger OEL(Hanifin) another quality prospect with the 1st pick and a NHL ready puck moving dman.

      We’d finally have a top pairing guy

      Honest debate?

      • PlayDirty

        I’d do it.

        Ference-Nikitin (gross)

        Still sucks, but with Nurse in the wings and hopefully a strategic ufa signing, it could improve.

        • PlayDirty

          Ya, you’d have Klefbom -OEL as a top pairing next year. You’d need to find a guy either thru free agency or trade to play with Nikitin(1 more year of him and insert nurse) then Fayne-Ference

          We get OEL and don’t have to give up any important roster pieces.

      • I honestly wouldn’t do it because of the cost. OEL is a really good Dman but its kinda obvious considering how Arizona is doing this year that he can’t be a shutdown defender that can go against the top guys effectively all by himself if he could Arizona would be in a much better spot than one point above Edmonton. What your proposing is basically trading away a younger undeveloped version of OEL (Hanifin), and 25 year old with offensive abilities and a late first rounder in a supposedly deep draft so most likely a roster player in the future and a 23 year old dman who looks like he will be a roster player. So in summary you would trade what would most likely be 4 roster players for one top defencemen on a bad team. Which by all projections one of those roster players your trading away could reach that type of potential anyways.

      • flamesfan98

        How about addressing this teams cancer and trade Hall and a 2nd for OEL.
        We get the #1 dman and break up the love affair between him and Eberle.
        Then package the soft scared Eberle cream puff for a real #1 starting goalie.
        Gotta build from the back end out then down the middle, once you got that, plug and play your wingers.
        Who the [email protected] decided to build a team around wingers?
        Taylor vs Tyler they were both equal at the draft, their both irresponsible, spoiled rookies but you gotta take the CENTERMAN.

        • flamesfan98

          I agree with you, build from the back and up the middle! This rebuild was done backwards. But you got hall and he’s one of the best left wingers in the game. I wanna keep him and move futures alot win with him

        • SSB1963

          Would love to know why you keep referencing Hall as this teams cancer? I know some guys who are pretty close to the oilers situation and never has it been brought up that he is a cancer on or off the ice.

      • flamesfan98

        How about addressing this teams cancer and trade Hall and a 2nd for OEL.
        We get the #1 dman and break up the love affair between him and Eberle.
        Then package the soft scared Eberle cream puff for a real #1 starting goalie.
        Gotta build from the back end out then down the middle, once you got that, plug and play your wingers.
        Who the [email protected] decided to build a team around wingers?
        Taylor vs Tyler they were both equal at the draft, their both irresponsible, spoiled rookies but you gotta take the CENTERMAN.

    • I adore Provorov as a prospect. He’s got size, speed, skill and thinks the game really well. He’s also a Russian kid who’s been in North America for several years, speaks the language really well and seems to get along with his teammates well.

    • Dirty30

      Can’t sleep so I’m gonna do a crazy quick fantasy over haul of the oilers core so I can make everyone mad and get called names

      Eberle + Musil to Montreal for Galchenyuk + Tinordi
      3rd overall pick + oilers first 2nd + Schultz to Arz for OEL
      Draisaitl to Tampa for Vasilevsky and 2nd rnd pick
      Pitts first round to toronto for phaneuf

      In 2 years you dominate the league with a core of

      Hall – RNH – ???

      ??? – Galchenyuk – Yakupov

      Klefbom – OEL

      Phaneuf – Nurse


      That gives you solid goaltending, solid defence, and 2 top lines

      Time for bed, I just did MacT’s job.

    • Rdubb

      First off, If this Provoprov is likened to a player of Giordano’s calibre, would he not be a great pick @ #3 or #4? I know it took Gio approx 6yrs to get to the place he is currently @, but I also think that his improvement accelerated once the Flames traded Iggy, now that could be a coincidence…
      Looking @ Bobby Mac’s draft rankings, I have to ask myself how so many guys can be so high in the draft who aren’t even close to scoring on a point per game average, and then guys who are scoring @ better than a point per game are ranked so low, why is this? Yes, I know team have a lot to do with it, and in which league their playing, but if they’re playing all in the Q or WHL, should the guys who are scoring at better then a point per game be ranked higher then the guys who aren’t, especially if they are both playing C, or the wings?
      Stuff like that has always made me curious, two guys who both play C, one guy scores @ a rate of 1.25 and the other @ .600, yet the guy @ .600 is ranked 20 spots higher…never could figure that one out, guess the scouts haven’t either, especially the Oiler scouts…

    • Provorov will probably be gone by the time the Flames pick (unless we win the lottery of course 😉

      We stole Bennett, who could still end up being the best forward of last year’s draft, at 4th overall after his ranking slid. Could we do the same thing with Oliver Kylington this year?

      • DoubleDIon

        If we’re picking in the 12-16 range (which is a fair assumption) I don’t think we have a shot at Provorov. We do have 3 2nd rounders and 2 3rd’s. I hope we use them to move up in the draft. At this point with our organizational depth we need quality more than quantity.

    • The Soup Fascist


      Do you ever get the impression that Button sometimes throws these “Provorov is better than Hanifin” – type grenades out to get a little press? It seems like every year he goes off the board or way of the board in regards to a specific player or two to be controversial – for the sake of being controversial.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Interesting. Can’t say I have watched an abundance of any of those guys. Hanifin’s skating is often referenced as being superior to his peers.

          But, then again, so was Steve Kelly’s.

          • DoubleDIon

            You can watch NCAA games online now. Joey LaLeggia is a player that’s pretty intriguing for you guys. Especially with the advent of guys like Krug and Barrie finding good success. He plays a very similar game.