It’s a big prospect talk over here at Broad Street Hockey, where we’re breaking down the top-10 prospects in the Flyers’ system.
Last week, we polled the staff here for their personal top-10 rankings and used that to compile our composite list, and we’ll be working through that list over the next couple of weeks.
No. 8: Egor Zamula
2021-22 League/Team: Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)/Philadelphia Flyers (NHL)
2021-22 Statistics: 4 G, 25 A, 29 P in 58 GP combined across NCHC/NHL
Acquired In: Signed as free agent in September of 2018
How did Zamula’s 2021-22 hockey season go? Is his stock trending up or down from where it was entering the year?
Zamula spend the bulk of the season in the AHL with the Phantoms and was productive in taking on a larger role, notching 29 points across 58 games. Of course with the Flyers’ season in the tank, the tall defender logged 10 NHL games but failed to register a point though playing an average of more than 16 minutes per contest.
Given that Zamula was in his age-21 season expectations remained realistic for the 6-foot-3, 177-pound defenseman. Zamula’s frame still has room to fill out but he again showed flashes of big time ability in 2021-22 and showed some discipline in the form of just 16 penalty minutes across 58 AHL games.
For a project like Zamula it’s about incremental progress which makes a stock up or down on the tougher side but he didn’t do anything to warrant going backwards last season. If anything he was plagued by a lack of opportunity to prove himself further given the steady amount of uninspiring defenseman ahead of him both in Lehigh Valley and with the Flyers.
What are we expecting from Zamula this season? What should we be looking for from him?
Zamula’s path is once again crowded thanks to the Flyers’ offseason decisions at the NHL level, but he’s still 22 and has penalty to work on down on the farm.
For starters, he still needs to figure out how to use his body physically more to help separate the puck from opposing puck carriers consistently. He’s got an active stick and a massive reach, but he can get moved off his spot easily when defending the crease and that’ll only get harder with the bigger, stronger bodies at the NHL level. More than capable of making the first pass and generating clean zone exits, Zamula isn’t consistent enough at this stage of his development in that respect and will surely be working hard to clean up that part of his game.
Egor Zamula said he put on 12 pounds this summer.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) September 15, 2022
There’s plenty to like in his game — he had another strong showing against the New York Rangers’ prospects last weekend — and we should be looking for more incremental progress in those areas from Zamula in order to vault up the Flyers’ organizational depth chart. We can also expect to see Zamula this season as the Flyers’ hopes don’t appear to be great after the injury news of Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis.
How does Zamula fit into the Flyers’ long-term plans? Where does he stand in the Flyers’ organizational depth?
Zamula still qualifies somewhat as a lottery ticket in the Flyers’ system, where they could certainly use a couple prospects to make a leap. On the blue line there’s Cam York — already in the NHL — and Ronnie Attard knocking on the door, but it really thins out after Zamula and Emil Andrae slot in with Attard.
Give the Flyers’ on-paper chances this season, there’s a chance that things get very blown up and young players are given extended looks. Zamula would certainly fall into that category and would give the team a chance to see what they really might have. That said, he’s still played just 83 total professional games and needs more seasoning before getting overwhelmed.
Another cup of extended coffee this season would be beneficial after Zamula is given time to really work on his weakness down in lower pressure Lehigh Valley.
What do we think Zamula’s ultimate NHL upside is, and how likely is it that he gets to something approaching that?
Zamual has projectable skills but needs to fill out his frame in order to be a more complete defender, especially in his own zone and defending his net. He does have hands and is capable of skill plays both in terms of passing and shooting, but he’s inconsistent at this point and will need to prove to be capable of making zone exits on a consistent basis in order to stick in the NHL is some capacity.
As we mentioned he’s played less than 100 professional games so there has to be some patience with Zamula, especially with his lack of bulk at this point. The tools are there to potentially make it as an NHL defender, but it’s going to take more time and even then it’s plausible that his ceiling upside is a third pair defender with a best case scenario hopping into a second pair role with an above average partner. It doesn’t look like Zamula will be carrying anyone like a Travis Sanheim, at least in this point of his development.
Zamula is still just so green, and we’ll start to be able to make more assumptions once he’s got more than full professional season under his belt — but there’s a lot to like at this point.