Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said he improved his crowded defense and its speed Wednesday by signing free-agent Yevgeni Medvedev, a three-time KHL all-star in Russia.
The 6-foot-3, 187-pound Russian will be playing in the NHL for the first time after spending his career in the Russian Elite League and the KHL.
He is regarded as a strong-skating two-way defenseman, and Hextall is banking on his making a quick adjustment to the smaller NHL rinks.
"We just felt with the size, the mobility, the skating, that we upgraded our group here," said Hextall, who said Medvedev has the ability to play on the power play and penalty kill. "He's a real solid all-around player."
Hextall said Medvedev - who reportedly signed a one-year deal for $3 million - has the ability to be among the Flyers' top four on defense.
"How quickly he makes the transition to the smaller ice and the nuances of the game, that's going to dictate whether he gets in our top four on not, but he certainly has the capability," Hextall said.
The Flyers' blue line got older - Medvedev will turn 33 on Aug. 27 - and the signing suggests the team is buying another season before any of its promising defensive prospects are NHL-ready. That group features Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Sanheim, Sam Morin, and Robert Hagg.
Medvedev, who shoots left but is comfortable playing either side, appeared in 373 games for Ak Bars Kazan, recording 37 goals, 165 points, 408 penalty minutes, and a plus-100 rating.
Medvedev has represented Russia internationally the last four years, helping his team win gold medals at the world championships in 2012 and 2014, along with a silver medal in the competition that ended last weekend in the Czech Republic, where Russia was trounced by Canada, 6-1, in the final.
A former forward who was converted to a defenseman when he was 21, Medvedev was a member of Russia's 2014 Olympic team in Sochi.
The Flyers have eight defensemen signed for next season: Medvedev, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Grossmann, Luke Schenn, Radko Gudas, Nick Schultz, and Brandon Manning. In addition, they expect to re-sign Michael Del Zotto, who is a restricted free agent.
"We have a logjam, and we're going to have to look to move somebody," Hextall said. ". . . Something will have to give here."
The Flyers have pursued Medvedev for a few years, said Hextall, adding that the Kings were interested in the defenseman when he was an assistant GM in Los Angeles.
Hextall said former Flyer Erik Gustafsson's agent contacted him about his client's desire to return to the NHL from the KHL, but the general manager said the team doesn't have room for another defenseman.
Hextall on Lecavalier. Hextall said the fact the Flyers have a new coach, Dave Hakstol, doesn't alter the Vinny Lecavalier situation. "It hasn't worked for Vinny, and it hasn't worked for us, and at this point, it's safe to say I'm not convinced it changes anything," Hextall said.