It seems like only yesterday that the Philadelphia Flyers were struggling to produce homegrown defensive talent and were mortgaging future draft picks for disgruntled veteran help for the second half of the season.
Times have changed in Philadelphia, as their 2018-2019 blue line is projected to feature four homegrown defensemen in Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, and Philippe Myers. In addition, their prospect cupboard is filled with talented defenseman, pushing each other for limited spots in both Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley. There is no lack of high-end talent on defense now that players like Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim have graduated to the National Hockey League and Myers is closing in on a spot. Other top defensive prospects include Adam Ginning (2018 2nd round), Linus Hogberg (2016 5th round) and Wyatt Kalynuk (2017 7th round), though they will all need more time developing and likely won’t see the NHL roster for quite a while.
Enter Yegor Zamula…
The 6’3, 161 pound native of Chelyabinsk, Russia entered the Philadelphia Flyers training camp coming off his first junior season in the Western Hockey League. He split the season between the Regina Pats and the Calgary Hitmen, an organization the Flyers have drafted heavily from in recent years (Sanheim – 2014, Fazleev – 2014, Twarynski – 2016). Zamula plays a responsible two-way defensive game and showed flashes of offensive ability once he was traded to the Hitmen. He wasn’t on many teams’ radars at the draft and no hockey analyst included him in their top 100 lists, though it’s difficult to project an imported defenseman’s success in their first season in North America.
In August, Zamula was invited to development camp with the Philadelphia Flyers. The lanky defenseman showed enough to earn himself an invite to the Flyers’ official training camp. For an 18-year-old playing against adults, Zamula did not look out of place in preseason and had a rather impressive showing in the second preseason game playing alongside Mark Friedman. With only three preseason games remaining and the roster slowly filling out, a decision is looming on Yegor Zamula.
Ron Hextall has built a slow and steady culture in Philadelphia, with the main focus on drafting and developing players. Four years into this process, the organization is nearing it’s contract limit of 50 with a lot of talent in the NCAA needing contracts in the next few years. However, should the Flyers decide to sign Zamula to an entry-level contract, it would not count against the limit for 2018-19 and 2019-20 due to the slide rule.
Hopefully a week from now, we will be comparing Yegor Zamula to the 2015 rise of Philippe Myers, and not to the disappointments that befell Ivan Kosorenkov a year ago.
[ Photo Credit – Heather Barry/@HeatherM_Barry]
[Stats from eliteprospects.com]
[Quote Credit – Bill Metzler/@billmeltzer of Flyers.NHL.com]