clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What the signing of Yevgeni Medvedev means for the Flyers defense

New, comments

He seems to fit in with Dave Hakstol's style. But he's the ninth guy on the blueline for 2015-16 ... so something has to give.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers have a brand new defenseman, and his name is Yvgeni Medvedev. OK, cool. So who the hell is Yvgeni Medvedev?

Well, it's clear that Ron Hextall and his scouts like the guy. According to Sportsnet, they're paying him $3 million to join the Flyers, which is a good chunk of money. Makes you believe that he's going to be a piece of the team next year, even if he is the eighth (or ninth, including restricted free agent Michael Del Zotto) defenseman signed for 2015-16.

That raises a bunch of questions, but first let's get to know Medvedev a bit.

The basics

He's 32-years-old, and he's spent the last decade playing top-level professional hockey in Russia -- either in the KHL or its predecessor, the Russian Elite League. He's a three-time KHL All-Star, he's played in four World Championships for Russia, and he played for the Russians at the 2014 Sochi Olympics as well.

He had a top-four role for Russia at those 2014 Olympics, playing 17-and-a-half minutes per game in that tournament, typically paired with NHL defenseman Alexei Emelin. He's a trusted defenseman overseas, but he's certainly older than most players are when they first make the jump across the pond to North America.

Medvedev is not a scorer ... at all, really. His maximum point production in a professional season is 26, and that will likely go down in the NHL. But that doesn't mean he lacks offensive ability.


Still, don't really expect that stuff from him. He's not a scorer. Here's the EliteProspects summary of his game to give you a slightly better idea of what to expect.

A large, yet very mobile and smooth skating defenseman. Medvedev sees the ice well and has good hockey sense. He can pass really well, but also possesses a hard shot. Could play a more physical and aggressive game given his size.

Fitting in with Dave Hakstol's style

The words "mobile" and "smooth skating" really seem to fit in well with what new head coach Dave Hakstol is trying to do. He says he wants to activate a speedy defense and have them be a key part on the offensive side of the puck ... and of course, when he said that, the first thing everybody said in reply was "lol with THAT defense?"

Medvedev seems like he will be a better fit for what Hakstol wants to do than some (or most) of the guys currently on the team, even though we don't know how his game will be affected by the smaller ice surface and the more physical style of hockey played in North America.

So who's the odd man out?

If Medvedev is going to be a piece of the team next season, that means somebody's gotta go -- if not more than one player.

Michael Del Zotto seems like another natural fit for what Hakstol is trying to do, at least relative to the other names the Flyers have on their blueline. He's a restricted free agent but it would be pretty surprising if he weren't in Philadelphia next season, given his strengths.

The young talent in the pipeline -- Travis Sanheim, Shayne Gostisbehere, etc. -- seem like good fits for what Hakstol wants to do as well, but that's all contingent on if they're able to impress enough to crack the lineup this fall. Probably unlikely.

Otherwise, it's probably a matter of who the Flyers can get rid of. Will somebody take Andrew MacDonald if the Flyers eat a bunch of salary? What about the trade value of a big contract (on a good player) in Mark Streit, or the value to a team for Luke Schenn? It really feels like nobody is safe on this Flyers blueline ... all with the stipulation that it might be hard for Ron Hextall to move anybody, too.

Nevertheless, the signing of Medvedev shows that the Flyers are not going to sit patiently and wait until their current crop of terrible defensemen are done with their contracts.