Toronto Maple Leafs Draft: The Case For Ivan Provorov


Each Wednesday, I will feature a top prospect eligible for the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft and explain how he would fit into the Toronto Maple Leafs Draft plans.

I understand that with the Leafs picking 4th overall, one of American defence man Noah Hanifin, London Knights centre Mitchell Marner or Erie Otters centre Dylan Strome will be available. If Shanahan and company decide to go with a centre, which they should, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to trade back into the top-10 in order to snag a top defence man.

The only defencemen the Leafs have on their roster now that will make an impact in the future are Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner (if he isn’t moved), and maybe one of Stuart Percy, Matt Finn and Viktor Loov – who are currently playing for the Marlies and will likely only develop into a top six defence man. Stocking the cupboard with a top offensive defenceman prospect would benefit the Leafs in the long run.

Ivan Provorov is, in my mind, a sure-shot top 10 draft pick. According to many draft sites, he is ranked to go anywhere from seventh to tenth overall, which would cost the Leafs their first round draft pick acquired from the trade that sent Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators, as well as a roster defence man i.e Gardiner and a another mid-round draft pick.

The cost is a lot – and I am a big Gardiner fan – but watching Provorov play I’d pull the trigger on that deal if the other team is willing to take on Gardiner’s $4.05-million contract.

If you break the trade down, Toronto would get two top-10 prospects this year to go with William Nylander, who was last years eighth overall draft pick. The Leafs trade Gardiner, a defence man who has room to grow and then another mid round draft pick. Possible trade partners would be New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks who pick seventh to tenth respectively.

If Provorov drops to 10th, he is an absolute steal, and with the Sharks drafting Switzerland-born defence man Mirco Mueller in the first round last year, the Sharks will look to add a forward – which they could draft with the Leafs late first round draft pick while acquiring a roster and power play defence man in Gardiner as well as another mid-round draft pick in a very deep draft or in next years draft.

The scouting report on Provorov is simple. Fantastic offensive ability, can spot the open man and thread the needle for a breakaway pass. When the puck is on his stick, he can control the game from the back-end and creates many chances on the power play with his vision and shot. He can play in any situation and kill penalties without any problems.

Despite being born in Yaroslav, Russia – the offensive defence man began to play on North American ice in 2011-2012 – suiting up for the Wilkes-Barre Bantam Knights – and recorded 28 goals and 33 assists for 61 points in 27 games. His second year, he played for the U16 Wilkes-Barre/Scran Knights and in 24 games and recorded 36 points.

Provorov exploded in his Midget year, scoring 42 goals and 55 assists for 97 points in 51 games. After his dominating Midget year, the highly touted Russian prospect elected to stay in America, and play for the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders – where he appeared in 56 games and recorded six goals and 13 assists for just 19 points. Despite the low point output that year, he was a plus/minus 32, which means knows how to take care of his own end.

After being drafted 30th overall by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round of the CHL Import Draft, Provorov was selected in the third round of the KHL Draft by the Lokomotiv Yaroslav. He decided to take the CHL route – and has emerged as one of the Wheat Kings best defence man, and has helped the Wheat Kings grab a playoff spot and is ready to help them make a playoff run.

In his rookie year with the Wheat Kings, the 18 year-old scored 15 goals and 46 assists for 61 points in 60 games – one points shy of a point a game. Provorov was four points behind Travis Sanheim of the Calgary Hitmen who recorded 65 points and played seven more games.

If the Leafs could stock their cupboard with a top centre top defence man in the top-10, they would be well on their way in the rebuild process.

Here is a highlight package of Ivan Provorov, scoring two goals vs. Swift Current Broncos.

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