Back in August of 2018 when the Philadelphia Flyers invited the lanky, Russian defenseman to take part in their rookie camp, little did anyone know that just a few weeks later they’d be signing him to an entry level contract. But after a strong showing in rookie - and subsequently training - camp, Yegor Zamula had earned himself just that.
Now, one year removed from signing his entry level deal, the comparisons to Philippe Myers go well beyond the two being tall, undrafted defensemen who just so happened to attend the Calgary Flames’ development camp prior to signing with Philadelphia.
No. 23: Yegor Zamula
Age: 19 (3/30/2000)
Size: 6’3”, 176
Acquired Via: Signed as an undrafted free agent on September 20, 2018
2018-19 League/Team/Statistics: Calgary (WHL) - 10 G, 46 A in 61 GP
Ranking in BSH Winter 2019 25 Under 25: 21
After splitting his 2017-2018 campaign, his first in North America, between the Regina Pats and the Calgary Hitmen, Zamula flexed his offensive prowess in his first full season with the Hitmen. The team had a bit of a slow start, as did Zamula with zero points through the first eight games of the season. Yet despite starting the season 5-12-2, they managed to make the playoffs, even knocking out the higher-seeded Lethbridge Hurricanes in round one.
And Zamula’s play was a big reason why the turnaround occurred.
Directly following their grisly start to the season, the Hitmen began to hit their stride, winning 16 of their next 22 contests. During that stretch Zamula would score six goals and put up 29 points in total, asserting himself as one of the top point producing defensemen in the league. And by the end of the season the defender who had just 18 points one year prior, finished with a whopping 56 points in 61 games — seventh-most among all Western Hockey League defensemen.
Once the playoffs began, Zamula continued to rack up assists with seven in eleven contests, but the Hitmen would ultimately fall to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round of the playoffs.
Zamula is generally a very disciplined player, racking up only 27 penalty minutes last season, but was hit with a one-game suspension following an illegal check to head back in January. He then later missed a few games with a concussion in early February, but didn’t miss a beat once he returned to action.
As the Flyers once hefty defensive prospect pool continues to drain, the addition of Zamula looks all the more important. And while the comparisons to Myers may have been more superficial in the beginning, their junior career trajectories have been similar. Both were essentially non-contributors offensively in their draft years — Myers even more so — but had huge breakout seasons in their following campaigns.
From a production standpoint, Zamula actually had a more impressive Draft+1 season than Myers did four seasons ago, and that was the season in which some began to realize that the organization may have struck gold in signing him. That season was arguably bested by Zamula in 2018-2019.
(The WHL and QMJHL are separate leagues of course, but both fall under the CHL umbrella, and their NHL translation factors are quite similar.)
With that being said, there are reasons why Zamula hasn’t received anywhere close to the same amount of attention that Myers had following his breakout season. For starters, he’s not as strong of a skater as Myers was at the same age. Zamula’s movements are fluid, and he’s not a bad technical skater by any means, but there are times where the power behind his strides is lacking. He’s also less flashy than his counterpart, tending to be more of a puck distributor than a true dangerous threat offensively himself. Though he has flashed the ability to be that type of player at times.
There’s also the fact that Myers had an incredible run in the playoffs with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies that year, representing the QMJHL in the Memorial Cup and falling just short of winning the whole thing. Playoff success and to a lesser extent, him being a right-shot defenseman, undoubtedly factored into the hype.
While it may still be too soon to say whether the Flyers have found another undrafted gem in Zamula or not, if he can add some muscle and further improve in 2019-2020 he could very well ascend to Myers’ level of prospect notoriety.
Previously in Philadelphia Flyers Summer 2019 Top 25 Under 25: