As college free agent season is almost upon us, the Flyers have dipped their toes into the water with an early signing. The team has signed defenseman Will Zmolek to a one-year, entry-level contract that will kick in next season.
For now, Zmolek will head to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on a ATO for the rest of the season. Due to his age, his ELC has to be just a year. But the Flyers will get a chance to see what he can do at the AHL level first. He will join a young Phantoms team looking to make their way back to the post season for the first time since 2018.
This past season, Zmolek was an alternate captain at Bemidji State University. In his final season, he stepped up his offensive game. While posting just four goals, he did chip in with 21 total points in 36 games. That came after just 15 points in 38 games during his junior year. He was fourth on the team in points, second among defensemen.
Zmolek was also named as a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award, awarded to the nation’s top Division I hockey player. Cutter Gauthier, drafted by the Flyers last summer, is also a nominee. The top 10 will be announced on March 17th.
Despite a strong season for Zmolek, the Beavers lost to Northern Michigan this past Saturday to knock them out of the CCHA Quarterfinals. Zmolek had an assist on Beavers tying goal in the second period before they fell 2-1 in overtime.
Overall, Zmolek appeared in 126 games for the Beavers. He posted nine goals and 46 points. With a fifth year of eligibility, Zmolek could’ve gone back to Bemidji for one more season. But three days after that loss, he decided to forgo that with this ELC.
The Phantoms, currently sitting in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, have 16 games remaining to make their final push. Zmolek should get a good opportunity to help them make it happen.