Since signing as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to the 2018 NHL season, defenseman Egor Zamula was set on one goal. For some, that goal might seem odd, but for Zamula, it was everything. The native of Chelyabinsk, Russia, dreamed of being paired with his fellow countryman, Ivan Provorov from the moment he became a member of the Flyers organization. That dream finally became a reality this past week, as he was recalled to the NHL before the start of the weekend.
He spent a large majority of the last two seasons with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the American Hockey League (AHL), but recently got the call to the NHL following a string of injuries for the Flyers’ defensive core. The team is currently without Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body), Cam York (lower body), and Nick Seeler (lower body), so the door was wide open for his dream to finally work out. The 24-year-old defenseman played a total of six games with the Flyers dating back to last season, but never had the chance to play with his idol on the same defensive paring until now.
“When I signed a contract here with the Flyers, I told him right away it’s my dream to play with you one time, maybe two times, maybe every time,” Zamula said. “Before practice, I was watching TV and I saw my name with Provy together. … He told me he was going to help me to play better, teach me something and enjoy.”
This opportunity proved to be a huge moment in his career, as he was able to make his dreams a reality. He proved to be a hard-working and dedicated player since the day the team first set eyes on him, and the Flyers could not have asked for a better player to fall into their lap.
Leading Up to this Point
Zamula fell under the radar of many teams in the NHL, which was a huge surprise for the Flyers when they signed him to an entry-level contract. The 6-foot-3, 160-pound defenseman was believed to be too small to compete at the NHL level, but that did not stop him from trying. Prior to signing with the Flyers, he spent three seasons with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he started developing into the player he is today.
He played a total of 158 games all while collecting 102 points (19 goals and 83 assists). He was invited to the Calgary Flames development camp following his career with the Hitmen, but things did not pan out as expected. Once the Flyers organization found out, he was invited to camp on an amateur tryout which resulted in an entry-level contract eleven days later.
“I think he’s only going to get better,” said Jeff Chynoweth, the general manager of the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. “He’s a very slight player, that’s the one thing he’s got to do like any young player, he has to get bigger and stronger. He reads the ice very well, he can slow the game down. … He reads and reacts, he’s got a great, active stick. I think there’s a huge upside with Yegor. I’ll be quite honest, I was surprised he wasn’t drafted.”
For the Flyers, he was everything they were searching for, despite his size. The organization knew he had plenty of growing to do, and he would eventually put on the size needed to compete at the NHL level. He did exactly that after being signed and the organization could not be happier with how things are turning out.
What to Expect from Zamula Moving Forward
Zamula is not one of those players that will turn heads every single night, but he is certainly going to do his job on the ice regardless of the situation. He clearly models his defensive game after Provorov, which is huge for the team moving forward. The young defenseman still has a lot to learn, but the experience he is gaining this season will be helpful going into next season (from ‘For Flyers defenseman Egor Zamula, playing alongside countryman Ivan Provorov a ‘dream come true’,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/15/2022).
“He’s got all the tools,” interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “I think that his summer is going to dictate a lot of that as far as getting stronger, the time that he spends in the gym, and the work that he puts into being physically fit enough to be an NHL player on a nightly basis. It’s one thing to come up and do it for one or two games.”
This offseason might be the most important one of his career, as he will fight for a spot in the NHL lineup next season. If he continues doing the right things and improving his game, there is no doubt that he will be in a Flyers uniform to start next year. Hopefully, he will continue taking pointers from his favorite player, and maybe the pair will be able to play together every single day next season.
Bobby Bader Jr. is a freelance journalist born and raised in Philadelphia, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers since the start of the 2020-21 National Hockey League Season. He currently works with the Hershey Cubs Hockey Club (USPHL Premier) as the team’s media coordinator and serves as the Assistant Sports Information Director at Penn State Harrisburg. For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Bobby on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo in articles like this one.