With the NHL Draft right around the corner in nine short days. The event has Flyers fans around the Philadelphia region pumped, and ready to rock and roll. With this years draft being a very deep draft in terms of prospects. This draft has the billing to help the orange and black in a variety of areas in the future. Will they select or move up for a Right-Handed Defenseman, draft a Winger, or draft a versatile Center with picks 14 and 19? Truth is, no one knows as the drafting guru in Ron Hextall is one of the most unpredictable General Managers in all of hockey.
It’s no secret that the Flyers have one of the deepest farm systems in the entire NHL. Hextall has been stockpiling draftee after draftee over the course of the past four years. If the Flyers are looking to move up in the draft (Depending on how far they want to move up). It may require trading a blue chip Defenseman, many prospects, and many picks. With all costs one player the Flyers should refrain from trading is a young gifted Defenseman in Travis Sanheim.
What a solid season it was for the young Sanheim. It most certainly wasn’t the easiest transitions into the NHL for the young Defenseman. At one point Sanheim sat 9 out of 10 games in December and January with the Flyers, and was eventually sent to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for playing time on January 23, 2018. Sanheim didn’t disappoint for the Phantoms as he registered one goal, and 15 assists in 18 games played. He knew he had to be better with the puck, to which it would also help the team with transitioning out of the Defensive zone. Sanheim looked every bit of the determined player he was back in training camp, when told me in an interview, “Get excited. It’s a good team here. Good young guys, and good guys have returned. We’re gonna have a good year.”
Sanheim finally returned to the Flyers lineup against the Winnipeg Jets on March 10. He registered one shot on goal, and was a plus 1 in the 2-1 victory. Sanheim looked re-energized, and more determined to stay up for good with the big club. All rookies make mistakes, and well for Sanheim thank God he appeared to have learned from them.
This young gifted Defenseman in Sanheim made the most of his NHL opportunity when he was given the chance to do so. For the season, Sanheim registered a solid 2 goals, 8 assists, and was only a -6 in 49 games played with the orange and black. Yes, he made mistakes and turned the puck over 36 times in his rookie season (As Expected). However, Sanheim was also very good at times, as well. These are some of the growing pains that a team goes through when they are committed to playing the youth. It’s how the young guns learn, they learn through trial and error.
The former Hitmen product, Sanheim gained valuable experience with the orange and black in his rookie season. Sanheim proved to be a valuable asset to the Flyers young defensive core, and left little doubt he should be an NHL mainstay for years to come. At times he seemed to look like an elite shutdown defenseman, and at times he appeared to be a rookie. However, Sanheim still managed to compile pretty good stats in his rookie season by logging 15:35 in ice time, registered 35 blocks, 8 takeaways, and 36 giveaways in 49 games with the big club.
To prove Sanheim’s value even further for the Flyers. Finally, let’s look at the Corsi% (EV) from this past season, from best to worse according to hockey-reference.com:
Trahis Sanheim- 53.5%
Radko Gudas- 51.8%
Shayne Gostisbehere- 51.5%
Brandon Manning- 50.0%
Ivan Provorov- 49.3%
Andrew Macdonald- 45.7%
Robert Hagg- 44.7%
This young Defenseman from Manitoba, CAN, Sanheim shouldn’t even be thought of for a trade this off-season. Moreover, this also includes the thoughts of trading him with the Expansion Draft looming in 2020 (With the impression that Sanheim won’t be protected). Sanheim possesses so much skill, and value for the orange and black. He can be at the very least a solid top four pairing Defenseman in the NHL, thus trading him would set us back a few years.
The Flyers are thin on the blueline in terms of Defensive prospects, given the unfortunate injury to prospect Samuel Morin. So why move this young stud in Sanheim for an unproven prospect in the Draft? Why take a step back for an unproven player? Sanheim has the will to succeed at a high level, and the sky is the limit for this young stud. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports