While trying to figure out who was the last homegrown defenseman that the Philadelphia Flyers have developed that had a longstanding impact during a recent interview with Metro, Chris Therien hit the pause button.
It was as if he knew the answer but almost didn’t want to admit it. Finally, after a few seconds, he inevitably uttered with a chuckle, “Me.”
The sad part is he’s right.
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The 1990 third-round draft pick of the Flyers – and the team’s current TV color analyst – spent 11 of his 13 years in the league patrolling the blue line for the organization.
However, the Flyers think they took a big step in trying to end the 25-year drought. General Manager Ron Hextall used the team’s No. 7 pick overall in the NHL Entry Draft on Friday to select Russian defenseman Ivan Provorov.
“Ivan was a guy we coveted,” Hextall said to reporters at the draft. “He was a guy we targeted.”
Fast, physical and strong on offense and defense, Provorov was ranked as one of the top two defensemen in the draft. The 18 year old could even start his NHL career this fall and has all the tools to become a coveted No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman.
He is not alone, though. The Flyers, who have grabbed a defenseman in the first round for three straight years, have stockpiled as many as four other highly-touted players on the blueline.
Travis Sanheim, last year’s first-round pick, is their top-rated prospect, while Sam Morin (first round in 2013), Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg all have the potential as well to develop into elite D-men. With the addition of Provorov, the Flyers likely have one of the best groups of young defensemen in the league.
Near impossible to obtain in trades or free agency, the only way to get a No. 1 defenseman these days is to draft and develop one. The Flyers feel that is what they did this weekend and have been trying to do over the last three years.
“I know they have really good young defensemen,” Provorov told reporters. “I’m a competitive guy and it will be fun competing against those guys (to make the Flyers in the future).”
NHL approves changes for upcoming season
The NHL approved a couple of bold changes at last week’s Board of Governors meeting that will be implemented this coming season.
The biggest one was to overtime, where teams will now skate 3-on-3 for five minutes. The league had played 4-on-4 in OT since the 1999-2000 season. The goal is to have more games that are tied after regulation decided in overtime and reduce the number of games that go to a shootout.
The other notable change was the introduction of the coach’s challenge. Much like in football and now baseball, NHL coaches will be able to ask for a challenge on offside calls and plays involving goalie interference.