Directly in the midst of the Mike Babcock wildfire, the Philadelphia Flyers agreed to terms with defenseman Yevgeny Medvedev on Wednesday.
Medvedev hails from Chelyabinsk, Russia and has been a member of the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan since 2007. During his eight seasons with the team he was named an All-Star three times and additionally won two Gagarin Cups (KHL’s Stanley Cup).
Listed as 6’3” and weighing 187 lbs., Medvedev shined for Russia during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, adding to his international resume that includes two gold medals as well as this year’s silver in the IIHF World Championships.
According to Eliteprospects.com Medvedev is a mobile for his size and skates smoothly. That seems to play right into the system new head coach Dave Hakstol preached during his introductory press conference on Monday.
An interesting note is that Medvedev has never played more than 50 games in a season and beginning an NHL career which entails an 82 game season in his mid-30’s seems to be one of the worrisome notes to the deal. Naturally his “ability to adapt to the North American game” and playing on the smaller rink will also prove to be a test but it could certainly be worth the risk.
The Flyers now have eight defenseman on one-way contracts for the 2015-2016 season which likely means the wheels are in motion for a trade soon. Andrew MacDonald struggled largely last year and at times even being denoted a healthy scratch, all while earning $5 million dollars. Luke Schenn ($3.6 mil) and Nicklas Grossman ($3.5 mil) both failed to prove that they are worth their paychecks in the most recent campaign too. Neither fit the premise of Hakstol’s new speedy system including über-invovled defenseman.
A popular thought is that General Manager Ron Hextall is willing to offer package deals involving one of the previously mentioned defensemen and the Flyers later first round pick which originally belonged to the Tampa Bay Lightning, in order to shed salary and one of the men. The pick was acquired at the deadline in the Braydon Coburn deal.
For their prices and performance the Flyers should feel comfortable with what they have when it comes to Mark Streit ($5.25 mil), Nick Schultz ($2.25 mil), and Radko Gudas (991k).
The most perplexing piece to the back end is Brandon Manning. The Flyers announced just before their last game of the season that they had inked the 24-year old to a one-year, $625k, one-way deal despite him playing the majority of the season with AHL Lehigh Valley. It will be interesting to see what role he plays come October.
Carlo Colaiacovo is not expected to be brought back, thus allowing him to walk this summer.
The lone remaining man from the 2014-2015 roster in question is Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto would appear to fit Dave Hakstol’s system, however after the Medvedev move the Flyers now are left with just $3.5 million in cap space, seemingly a little short of what MDZ might expect to get out of a contract offer. #15 is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1.
Stay tuned to see what the new tandem of Hextall and Hakstol will do next!
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Additional Yevgeny Medvedev Notes:
1) Shoots left-handed.
2) Wore #82 for both Ak Bars and the Russian national team. No Flyer has ever worn #82.
3) Was an assistant captain for Russia during the 2014 Olympics.
4) Most points in a season was 26 in 49 games in 2012-2013.
5) Never had a minus season with Ak Bars.
6) First Russian defenseman for the Flyers since Alexei Zhitnik in 2006-2007.
7) Biggest knack on his game is he needs to use his size more, be more physical and aggressive.