We move on now to Russia, a nation which has had plenty of representation over the years for the Flyers, though their history with the Flyers doesn’t stretch very far back in history when it comes to appearing with the club. As many of you are aware, the Flyers and what was then the Soviet Union were near enemies. Flyers’ management were wary of signing Russian players when given the chance, even after the fall of the iron curtain, and more well known is the famous skirmish between the Flyers and the Soviet Red Army team in 1976, where the Soviet club nearly forfeited the game after complaining about the physical play.
However, those feelings are in the past, and since 1991, 19 Russian skaters have played for the Flyers. The interesting thing, though, is that only two of those skaters have played more than two seasons for the club, perhaps signaling how the Flyers have never really had a great Russian player (well besides Ivan Provorov) historically.
I guess that will be up to the readers to decide, as we take a look at Team Russia:
G – Sergei Bobrovsky
There have only been two Russian goaltenders to ever feature for the Flyers. The other goalie is Ilya Bryzgalov, so for me, it was an obvious choice to make.
Yes, the Flyers moved on from Bobrovsky far too quickly, and Bobrovsky wasn’t perfect when he started his career with the Flyers. However, all is forgiven now that Carter Hart is here. We can look back on that era of Flyers history with a different hindsight.
In 77 starts as a Flyer, Boborovsky compiled a 0.909% save percentage and won 42 games.
LD – Ivan Provorov
Provorov is by far the best player on this list, and is almost certainly now the best Russian Flyer of all time.
He’s already cemented himself in Flyers’ lore with some unreal goals, from the OT winner in game six of the Flyers series against the Islanders this past postseason, to his solo effort against the Canadiens that was one of the best goals scored in the NHL in the 2019-20 season.
Now firmly cemented as the Flyers’ #1 defenseman, Provorov looks to build on his legacy. So far through four seasons, Provorov has scored 133 points in 315 games.
RD – Dmitry Yushkevich
Though he is probably better remembered by Maple Leafs fans, Yushkevich started and ended his NHL career with the Flyers. Known as a gritty, shot blocking two-way defenseman, he played with the Flyers from 1992 to 1995, and then again in 2002-03.
In 215 games as a Flyer, Yushkevich scored 80 points.
LW – Andrei Lomakin
Lomakin was the first ever Russian to play for the Flyers, having made his debut at the age of 27 after having made his way to North America. Playing in the NHL from 1991 to 1995, Lomakin scored 50 points in 108 games as a Flyer in two seasons, even getting a bit of power play time too.
C – Alexei Zhamnov
Zhamnov was a pretty good player on his day, however, it’s a shame he only played 20 games for the Flyers in 2003-04 when he was 33 and towards the end of his NHL career. In fairness, he did score 18 points in those 20 games.
Zhamnov was a long time member of both the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks, and he scored 719 points in 807 career games in the NHL from 1992 to 2006.
RW – Valeri Zelepukin
Though he was a New Jersey Devil for the majority of his career, Zelepukin did play two seasons for the Flyers in the late 1990’s in a depth role, scoring 57 points in 151 games. He famously scored the goal that sent the Devils-Rangers Game Seven of their Conference Finals series in 1994 to overtime. Of course, Stéphane Matteau would have the last laugh as the Rangers would advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Regardless, this was long before he would be a Flyer.
Honorable Mentions: German Rubtsov, Danny Markov