Flyers’ valuable assets reside on the defensive left

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Flyers' Travis Sanheim
Flyers’ Travis Sanheim (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

In an offseason that’s been overwhelmingly negative regarding the current state and future direction of the Philadelphia Flyers, it’s justifiable as to why excitement is low heading into the ’22-’23 season. Within all of the bleakness, there does seem to be a bright spot regarding a certain position. That position is left defense.

The depth that the Flyers have at left defense is strong and can pave way for a promising future. While talent lacks within most positions on the roster, left defense is a position to remain hopeful and positive about.

Current – Provorov/Sanheim

Defensively, the left side is currently highlighted by Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. Both players went in opposite directions from each other during ’21-’22. Provorov saw another year of slight regression, while Sanheim exceeded expectations.

Provorov hasn’t been the player many hoped he would be at this point in his career, but there shouldn’t be a reason to throw in the towel. Sanheim took a major step forward after a lowly 2020-2021 season. He earned the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the most outstanding defenseman and was the only Flyers player to finish with a positive plus/minus. Maintaining that development is critical to this season.

Provorov can work out his flaws under John Tortorella and Brad Shaw. He’s still the Flyers’ workhorse as he logs the most minutes each game. A more confident and relaxed Provorov will strengthen Philadelphia’s defense moving forward.

On the cusp – York/Zamula

Cam York played in 30 games with the Flyers in ’21-’22 and scored 10 points (3G, 7A). He made major improvements after being called up which earned him top-pair minutes with Provorov. York complemented Provorov nicely, which is encouraging heading into next season.

York has top-four potential in Philadelphia and will be in contention for a roster spot during training camp in September. Partnering with Justin Braun currently makes the most sense.

Yegor Zamula played 10 games in ’21-’22, beneficial to his development. He kept with the NHL pace. Similar to York, Zamula did partner with Provorov at times. Flexible, Zamula is capable of playing defense on the right side of the ice.

He’s 6’5″ and 185lbs with the skills to crack an NHL lineup, but filling out more of his frame is a priority. An undrafted defenseman, Zamula will earn most of his minutes this season in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

In the system – Andrae/Ginning

Emil Andrae is watching his stock rise due to his recent performances at the World Junior Championships. Andrae has scored eight points (4G, 4A) in five games so far during the tournament. His elusive skating, puck movement, and shooting skills are contributing to Sweden’s success, which has put them in a semi-final matchup against Finland.

Andrae has poise and patience on the blue line. He can find space through traffic to fire the puck towards the net.

Andrae is only 5’9″ and 187lbs but has the skills to become a game changer. He will be staying in Sweden for the ’22-’23 season to play for HV71 in the SHL. Last season, Andrae scored 33 points (9G, 24A) in 41 games with HV71.

Another Swede, Adam Ginning will be joining the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the ’22-’23 season. Ginning signed his entry-level contract with the Flyers in May. He is a defensive defenseman primarily.

Like Andrae, Ginning was the captain of Sweden during the ’19-’20 World Junior Championships, leading his homeland to a bronze medal. His defensive play style makes him stand out from the current Flyers makeup; offensive and two-way defenders. Ginning already breaks that mold.

(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

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