Livescore Sunday, April 21

Three days after news broke that Mike Babcock is expected to be hired as the Blue Jackets’ next head coach, the team made another offseason splash Tuesday.

The Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Ivan Provorov, 26, in a three-way trade with the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings. Columbus sent its second of two first-round picks in this year’s draft (22nd overall) plus a conditional second-round pick in 2024 or 2025 to the Flyers in the deal.

“Now we have a defenseman who slots in perfectly with our group,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “We’ve got two really strong defensemen on the left side of our top four with Zach Werenski and Ivan Provorov, so I think we’re in good shape right away. They’re both experienced now, but they’re both still in their prime and you can put a lot of right-handed guys next to them and they’ll look pretty good.”

Columbus Blue Jackets taking criticism for acquiring Ivan Provorov, who chose not to participate in Philadelphia Flyers ‘Pride Night’

Less appealing is what happened Jan. 17 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, when Provorov didn’t participate in warmups because the Flyers wore special “Pride Night” jerseys and used rainbow-colored stick tape to support the LGBTQ+ community before a 5-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks.

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Provorov is Russian Orthodox and said he chose to “stay true to myself and my religion,” while not participating. His reasoning was met with criticism on social media, but Tortorella didn’t bench or scratch him for his refusal to join warmups.

“This has to do with his belief and his religion,” Tortorella said afterward. “It’s one thing I respect about ‘Provy.’ He’s always true to himself. That’s where we’re at with that.”

Kekalainen has a similar outlook.

“We’ve always been an organization that promotes inclusion and diversity and all those things,” Kekalainen said, referring to the Blue Jackets’ own promotional inclusion nights. “Hockey is for everyone, but we also respect freedom of opinion and freedom of choice. We’re not an organization that cancels anybody, so long as you’re a law-abiding citizen, and we have a long and good history on promoting all those things. Our organization supports inclusion and diversity, and we’re going to continue to do so.”

Columbus Blue Jackets: Some LGBTQ+ fans frustrated with Columbus Blue Jackets’ trade acquisition of Ivan Provorov

How the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Ivan Provorov in three-way deal

The trade that landed Provorov required the Kings to acquire him first from the Flyers for a package of players and a 2024 second-round pick. The next part was flipping him to the Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Kevin Connauton, whom Columbus acquired from Philadelphia.

Using the 2023 first-round pick they got from the Kings at the trade deadline for defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov and goalie Joonas Korpisalo, the Jackets packaged it with the conditional second-round pick in 2024 or 2025 and acquired Connauton. He was then flipped to the Kings for Provorov, who also had 30% of his annual $6.75 million salary charge picked up by Los Angeles.

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Provorov has two years left on the deal and will be an unrestricted free agent when it expires. Subtracting the $2.025 million provided by the Kings, Provorov will cost just $4.725 million against the Blue Jackets’ cap number for each of his remaining years.

“The (contract) term fits our window perfectly because we have some real good young defensemen coming,” Kekalainen said. “So, it was that plus the other things and having him at a 30% discounted rate fits into our cap plans moving forward. All those things put together, I think he’s a perfect fit for us.”

Ivan Provorov bolsters Columbus Blue Jackets’ defense

What the Blue Jackets are getting is a left-shot defenseman with seven years of NHL experience. The Flyers drafted him seventh overall in 2015, just one spot ahead of where Columbus took Zach Werenski.

“We’ve got two great defensemen now from the same draft,” Kekalainen said. “We were very high on Provorov the year we drafted Zach Werenski and we’ve always liked him. He’s a good defenseman, so he’s a good defender. That’s why they are called ‘defensemen,’ and I think that’s a real important quality to have in a defenseman, that you are a good defender. He’s also a good puck-mover and is still young.”

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Provorov played all 82 games this season and has stayed remarkably healthy in his career. This season, he finished with six goals, 21 assists and 27 points on a rebuilding team while being coached by Tortorella and former Blue Jackets assistant Brad Shaw.

As for Provorov’s role, he’s a two-way defender and will slot into the Blue Jackets’ lineup where Gavrikov skated prior to the March 1 trade that sent him to L.A.

During his time with the Flyers, Provorov posted a scoring line of 65-152-217 in 532 games and has a –28 plus/minus rating with 196 penalty minutes. He also has postseason experience, logging 3-8-11 in 22 career playoff games. Provorov led the Flyers in blocked shots this past season with 162 and logged the most short-handed ice time (221:35) as the top penalty-killing skater. Offensively, he skated the third-highest ice time (65:13) among defensemen.

“We’re looking forward to having him and he’s just approaching his best years,” Kekalainen said. “He’s a guy who all our reports are saying he’s a workout maniac. He stays in great shape. That’s probably why he doesn’t miss any games. There’s a lot of good things we see in him and he was our No. 1 trade target that we were able to get.”


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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Blue Jackets acquire Provorov from Flyers, bolster defense

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