Medvedev proving to be strong upgrade for Flyers

When the Flyers signed little-known defenseman Evgeny Medvedev from the KHL in the offseason, there were many questions surrounding the move.

The 33-year-old defenseman was going to make the transition from the international game to the North American game. At that age, who knew how he would adjust?

I had my doubts. It screamed depth signing. Ron Hextall called him a Top 4. I, along with many other Flyers fans, have been fooled enough by "defensive upgrades" to think this was the real deal.

But so far, Hextall has been dead on in his evaluation as Medvedev impressed at camp as the team’s best defenseman to this point.

Perhaps it is that history that brought out the skeptic in me. The Flyers, in the recent years, traded for Andrew MacDonald and Luke Schenn, which at the time, certainly felt like upgrades. Both are currently playing on the third defensive pairing.

Medvedev has comfortably moved into a slot alongside Michael Del Zotto on the second pairing. He is also getting playing time in all situations — power play, penalty kill, the works.

And he really hasn’t missed a beat.

Granted, this was the preseason and Medvedev is playing with so many who don’t have the pro experience he does, even as an overseas player. Still, it is the basic instincts and natural hockey sense that can’t be downgraded in the preseason. You either play with it all the time or you don’t. 

I’ll admit, the fact that there was little known about him and that no one really had a good scouting report on him made me a skeptic. I thought the transition would take longer. I thought they would give him a look and then find a way for him to mold his game to the North American side. Instead, he’s done it so seamlessly that it’s easy to forget about the kids for a year.

With such a strong preseason so far, forget the word depth when it comes to Medvedev. He’s here for every reason Hextall said he was — to improve the team. 

And in the process, he’s proving the doubters — and myself — wrong in all the right ways.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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