Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Egor Zamula to make NHL debut Tuesday, Cam York a ‘possibility’ with Shayne Gostisbehere out
The Philadelphia Flyers will be without defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere for the next few games. Gostisbehere has a minor MCL sprain and is expected to miss around seven to 10 days.
“Ghost suffered a MCL minor sprain last game. Had an MRI yesterday. Nothing serious,” Alain Vigneault said on Sunday afternoon. “We expect him back in seven to 10 days.”
Shayne Gostisbehere missed Sunday night’s game and the Flyers play the Devils thrice more in the seven-day timeframe. The Flyers then have a back-to-back against the Penguins at the backend of that seven-to-10 day timeline.
Claude Giroux plays hero to save Flyers from embarrassing loss to Devils
Given how poorly Samuel Morin and Philippe Myers played as a pair on Sunday night, Vigneault and Co. wanted to make a change quickly.
Egor Zamula to make NHL debut on Tuesday night
Egor Zamula was mentioned as a possibility by Vigneault before Sunday’s game and he’ll be making his NHL debut on Tuesday night.
“That’s one of the possibilities that Chuck and I have talked about,” Vigneault said of Zamula potentially getting a look. “He’s been playing well in Lehigh Valley, so it’s a possibility since Ghost might be out here for seven to 10 days –– but he said this morning that he felt real well.”
“We’ll see what happens here moving forward,” Vigneault continued. “If we get the opportunity to get a look at a couple of guys, we’re probably going to do that.”
And the Flyers are going to do just that with Zamula.
Zamula practiced on the second pair with Travis Sanheim on Monday. It looks like that’s where he’ll make his debut on Tuesday night in Newark.
“He is going to play with Travis tomorrow. I really haven’t seen him in Lehigh Valley, but [Chuck Fletcher] told me that for the last stretch, three to five games there, that he has been playing better and has been moving the puck well,” Vigneault said after practice on Tuesday. “So, we figured it was an opportunity for him to get a game in and see how he does in our next game tomorrow [in New Jersey].”
Egor Zamula, 21, is in his first professional season with the Phantoms. He has five assists, including three in his last two games, in 17 AHL games this season. Zamula had 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) and a +19 rating in 28 WHL games with the Calgary Hitmen last season.
“Since his first camp when he was invited to the camp [in 2018], I remember telling Provy how I thought this kid’s gonna be a player,” Claude Giroux said of “Big Z.” “He’s got a lot of poise with the puck. He’s very smart, good stick. He just does everything right. Personally, I’m very excited to see him play tomorrow.”
It’ll be interesting to see what Zamula can do in the NHL, but he might not be the only defenseman making his NHL debut this season.
Cam York working his way to the NHL?
While Zamula gears up for his NHL debut, Cam York is still waiting in the wings. York was selected with the 14th overall pick in the 2019 NHL draft. He was named the Big 10 Defenseman of the Year this season and signed his entry-level contract on March 31st.
Cam York joined the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL. The Phantoms have only played four games in recent weeks due to COVID-19, but York has played in their last three.
“[Chuck Fletcher] and I have talked about a couple of different possibilities here moving forward. York’s name has come up, but we both agree that we gotta take this one game at a time,” Vigneault said before Sunday’s game.
York, 20, had 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) in 24 games with the University of Michigan this season. He has yet to record a point with the Phantoms through three games. He is a more offensive-minded defenseman but can play a two-way game as well.
There are pros and cons to Cam York making his NHL debut this season. The Flyers will get a look at him to see how he fits in at the NHL level, but it’ll burn a year of York’s entry-level contract. A few games of York this season may not be worth the extra year at the end of the contract. However, if York continues to improve with Lehigh Valley, he could earn a call-up before the end of the season.
With the Flyers nearly eliminated from playoff contention, getting York or Zamula some NHL experience can’t hurt. They could be a part of the solution to the Flyers’ defensive problems heading into next season.
Photo: Heather Barry Images