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Flyers Keeping Egor Zamula Is Smart, And Not Just for Hockey Reasons

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(Photo: AP)

By the sounds of it, the Philadelphia Flyers, restricted free agent defenseman Egor Zamula, and agent Shumi Babaev will be discussing terms of a contract extension shortly. And though Zamula is a bottom-four defenseman for the Flyers, the benefits of retaining the 24-year-old extend beyond the rink.

In addition to being a young, tall defenseman, Zamula, a Russian, will also be a valuable friend to Flyers teammate Ivan Fedotov and Flyers prospect Matvei Michkov.

On May 16, it was (likely falsely) reported by Belarus Hockey that Flyers goalie prospect Alexei Kolosov could bolt back to his home country of Belarus after not settling in well in North America. At that time, Kolosov, 22, had only played in two AHL games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

And while the report may or not be true, it is a risk that the Flyers should be aware of and actively look to avoid. In the short term, the Flyers have a lot riding on Fedotov. In the long term, the Flyers have everything riding on Michkov.

With trade deadline acquisition Denis Gurianov virtually guaranteed to not be back in Philadelphia next season, the Flyers are going to need someone who can communicate with Fedotov, and down the road, Michkov. Kolosov too, depending on his understanding of the Russian language versus the Belarusian language.

Effectively, an investment in Zamula is also an investment in current and future assets. The Flyers are one of the most North American-heavy teams in the entire NHL, with only Zamula, Fedotov, Sam Ersson, and Ristolainen hailing from other continents on the current NHL roster.

This is not necessarily to say that this makes Philadelphia a less attractive place to play for foreign players, but it does objectively make life harder. Moving to another country for a career is already daunting, and even more so when it’s nearly impossible to communicate with others effectively.

The Flyers, like any other NHL team, have to continue to build. That’s not always a linear process, but Zamula will assuredly be part of it.

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