For those that have listened to the Wheat Kings’ broadcasts over the past couple of weeks, you’ve heard me campaigning for the WHL Player of the Year Award being given to Brandon defenceman Ivan Provorov.
A defenceman has only won the Four Broncos Trophy four times in the 50-year history of the Western Hockey League, most recently by Karl Alzner of the Calgary Hitmen and Kris Russell of the Medicine Hat Tigers in back-to-back years in 2007-2008 and 2006-2007. Alzner had 36 points and a +26 rating in 60 games in his winning season while Russell had 69 points and was +14 in 59 games the year he won the award.
My campaign hasn’t included talking about things that happened almost two decades ago, most certainly won’t include bashing other candidates, and won’t include predictions of an apocalypse if he doesn’t win (we’ll be getting enough of that elsewhere over the next month).
While we’re short on truth and facts in that other campaign, here are the facts and stats for Provorov’s candidacy for WHL Player of the Year...
Provorov led all WHL defencemen in scoring with 73 points (21 G, 52 A), despite missing 10 games while playing at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Provorov led the WHL with a +64 rating, the highest plus-minus for a WHL Defenceman since Paul Postma of the Calgary Hitmen was +69 in 2008-2009.
Postma, Saskatoon’s Stefan Elliott in 2010-11 and Provorov this year are the only three defencemen in the last 20 years to record 70 or more points and have a +/- of +60 or better.
Provorov won a silver medal with Russia at the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championship. He is not only the only team nominee to win a medal at the World Juniors – which I think should count for something.
In Head-to-Head match ups, Provorov and the Wheat Kings limited three of the best forwards in the East Division this season to a combined 19 points in 20 games. Those three forwards were Canadian Jr. Captain Brayden Point (Moose Jaw), WHL scoring champion Adam Brooks (Regina) and 43-goal man Reid Gardiner (Prince Albert).
And, for me at least, he’s the only candidate that is a sure bet to be playing in the National Hockey League next season.
I, of course, have the added privilege of watching Provorov play every night and it gives you a real appreciation of just how good a player he is.
If the above doesn’t convince you, perhaps this will. I’ve been broadcasting 23 the Wheat Kings’ for 23 years, saw Wade Redden, Ryan Pulock, Bryan McCabe and other great defenceman pass through the organization and I’ll say this...Provorov is the best defenceman to wear a Wheat Kings’ uniform during my tenure!! If that doesn’t sway voters Provorov’s way, nothing will.