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What do the Flyers have in Yegor Zamula?

Heading into the preseason, the Philadelphia Flyers worked out a left-handed defenseman named Yegor Zamula. He obviously didn’t make the team, but Zamula impressed the front office enough to earn himself a contract. Now, it’s looking like another undrafted steal— much like Phil Myers a couple years ago.

Who is Yegor Zamula?

Yegor (or Egor) Zamula is a 6’3”, 161 pound defenseman born in the year 2000. He comes straight from the Russian youth leagues, and in 2017, came to play in the WHL for the Regina Pats. In 38 games there, his first on North American ice, Zamula recorded just seven assists and no goals.

The Pats, who picked Zamula with the final first round pick of the import draft, were forced by league rules to waive him after making a trade to acquire another import defenseman. Each team can only have two import players, and the Pats let go of the prospect in favor of the veteran.

Regina GM John Paddock addressed the move: “We had to make a decision. Egor is a tremendous young man and a real good young player. It’s one of those things like Tristen Robins coming back to play against you. We’re going to see Egor in the league I’m sure.”

He was picked up on waivers by the Calgary Hitmen, Travis Sanheim’s old club. There, he played out the rest of the season, and in 31 games with Calgary he increased his scoring with 11 points, two of them goals.

The Flames— exactly as they did with Phillipe Myers— gave “Big Z” a workout before cutting him loose, apparently not liking what they saw enough to sign him. Hextall brought in the defenseman to a little confusion among fans and to everyone’s surprise, he actually looked pretty good in his two NHL preseason games. He went home as an official member of the Flyers organization.

18 points in an entire season? Why sign that?

If you’re looking purely at statistics, sure, those aren’t great numbers for a junior hockey league.

But, per Alexander Appleyard’s research on Zamula’s time on the Russian international junior squad, he’s more than capable of holding his own. As a 16 year old, he ranked 11th in scoring among all U17 Russian defensemen. He was selected for the U18 national team, and his pairing partner Alexander Romanov was an early 2nd round pick by Montreal.

This year marks what should be his first full season in North America with a single team. After a slow start, Zamula has likely gotten himself adjusted to life in Canada. While points aren’t of major importance for a defender, he’s producing some decent offensive talent out west.

Even so, the points are coming along, too.

That entire 2017-18 point total was eclipsed in a 21 game span. While he’s certainly a project defender— we likely won’t see him in a Flyers uniform until 2022 or ‘23– he has NHL potential. To be safe, he should probably eat a little more. The average NHL player weighs in at about 199 pounds.

At Zamula’s age, he has time to fill out, for sure. It’s the same thing that blocked Morgan Frost from a truly legitimate shot at the team this past camp. Regardless of his weight (a non-issue at this point in his career), if he can continue to improve his offensive skills, his ceiling gets a little cloudy. He’s getting good experience running the top powerplay for the Hitmen. Flyers fans should keep an eye on this one.

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