You’re looking up and down at the roster right now of the Philadelphia Flyers. A team that is standing at 8 wins, 9 loses, and 6 overtime losses, at the bottom of the metropolitan division, and still only a couple wins away from sitting atop the division. From top to bottom, the roster really doesn’t look too bad. You have one of the best top lines in the game with Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, and Sean Couturier. You have a solid second line with Nolan Patrick, Wayne Simmonds, and Travis Konecny. Third line is a bit of a toss up between guys like Dale Weis, Jori Lehtera, Jordan Weal, Matt Read, and sometimes even Michael Raffl, unless he is residing on the fourth line with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier, which some people regard as one of the best fourth lines in the game.
The defense isn’t too shabby either, in spite of the fact that at most times during the season, two of the Flyers starters are rookies. Goalies are performing at a higher level than they were right off the bat, which is also encouraging. That defense though, always a hot topic and rightfully so. For years now, Hextall has been stocking up on defensive prospects like a crazy person is stocking up for the apocalypse.
We have finally reached the point where these prospects are breaking through to the NHL, and they’re almost immediately paying dividends. Robert Hagg has been incredibly solid, especially alongside of second year stud Ivan Provorov. Then there is Travis Sanheim, who some love, and some loathe. The loathers are few and far between, but the 2014 first round selection isn’t exactly making his impact felt like most thought he would.
Sanheim was the longshot of three candidates to fill two slots on the Flyers’ blue line this season. Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin came into the training camp battle as the likely pair that would make the jump, and most were surprised when not only they all three made the team, but Morin was the one that kept watching from the press box as Hagg and Sanheim filled in for injuries.
Sanheim is playing like a rookie. There is no simpler way to put it. He is being caught out of place, taking stupid penalties, and doing things that sometimes result in a goal for the opposing team. All things are to be expected of rookies. However, he has shown an immense amount of potential when it comes to jumping in on the rush and pushing the offense up the ice. Sanheim is going to develop into a stellar defenseman, he’s just going to experience some growing pains before that happens.
Just like Lieutenant James Gordon says about Batman, Travis Sanheim is “the hero (Philadelphia) deserves, but not the one it needs right now.” Travis Sanheim is not Batman, nor is Philadelphia Gotham, but at this point, Sanheim may not be the best option for the Flyers. Another year or two passes, and a spot or two opens up, and yes, Sanheim is the guy that slots in because he is immensely talented and deserves that spot. Right now, however, that spot belongs to Samuel Morin.
Morin finally got his shot after having been sent back down to the Phantoms after a very solid preseason, and after blowing the opportunity at an earlier callup due to a nagging injury. Sanheim hasn’t been bad, let’s get that straight. However, he has been pretty prone to making those costly rookie mistakes that sometimes doom the team. In 20 games, he has four assists and no goals with a minus five rating. For a rookie, it could definitely be worse.
Sanheim was a popular choice amongst fans. However, to quote Harvey Dent, “It’s not about what I want, it’s about what’s fair!” No, the situation is in no way, shape, or form resembling of what Dent did, but it rings true to this situation as well. Maybe Morin isn’t the popular choice right now over Sanheim. Overall, Morin is the popular choice because we need a big, physical defenseman that can clear the crease and create a path so the goalie can see the puck. Sanheim is big, but he isn’t the physical presence that Morin is.
When Andrew MacDonald is healthy and Radko Gudas is back from his suspension, the six defensemen that should be playing are Ivan Provorov, Andrew MacDonald, Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Radko Gudas, and Samuel Morin. Sanheim can use a little more time down in the AHL with the Phantoms. Morin has done all he can in a Phantoms uniform. It’s time for him to show us what he can do for the Flyers right now.
Travis Sanheim will end up being a great defenseman in the future, and hopefully for the Flyers. However, his time isn’t right now. He is young, He has that advantage. He still has time to polish his game and refine it to a point where when he does get called up, he hits the ice skating and is ready for that level of competition. Until then, we should see Samuel Morin stay in the lineup over Sanheim. No, it isn’t the popular opinion because so many people want Manning or MacDonald to sit, and I understand that. However, you can’t tell me that out of all the defensemen with the Flyers right now, that Sanheim is the most proven and deserves the spot over the rest of the bunch.
Everyone else has earned their shot, and the ones who have been there have earned the right to keep their spot. Morin is the hero that Philadelphia needs right now, while Sanheim is the hero we deserve down the road.
Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports