Travis Sanheim entered the 2018-19 season with one goal in mind, improve from last year. In his first stint with the orange and black in 2017-18. Sanheim found himself in and out of the lineup at times. Fast forward to the 2018-19 season, Sanheim has been a permanent fixture on the Flyers blue line, with him being one of the most consistent Defensemen that the Flyers have.
It most certainly wasn’t the easiest transitions into the NHL for the young Defenseman last season. 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.
What a season it has been for Sanheim. Sanheim has worked diligently with his gap control this season, and it’s paying off in a big way for the orange and black. Moreover, Sanheim looks 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.”
This young, gifted Defenseman in Sanheim has made the most of his NHL opportunity when he has been given the chance to do so. For the 2018-19 season, Sanheim has registered a solid 3 goals, 8 assists in 35 games played. Yes, he has made some mistakes, however Sanheim has been phenomenal for the most part. Sanheim has a Corsi rating of 54.4% (EV) on the season, and finallllllly from the Lord’s prayers has registered over 20 minutes a game for the past four games. This includes some Power Play time, as well.
Under former Head Coach Dave Hakstol he was reluctant to play Sanheim for 20 minutes a game. Very rare did Sanheim ever come close to 20 minutes a game. Sanheim has busted his butt and done well with his gap control lately, so he should be getting close to 20 minutes of ice time every game. Furthermore, Sanheim should be placed on the second Power Play unit, as Ivan Provorov just doesn’t look comfortable back there. This could also help reduce Provorov’s ice time.
To prove Sanheim’s value even further for the Flyers. Finally, let’s look at the Corsi% (EV) for this season, from best to worse according to hockey-reference.com:
Radko Gudas- 54.5%
Travis Sanheim- 54.4%
Christian Folin- 53.1%
Shayne Gostisbehere- 52.8%
Andrew MacDonald- 50.5%
Ivan Provorov- 48.7%
Robert Hagg- 47.9%
This young Defenseman from Manitoba, CAN, Sanheim shouldn’t even be thought of for a trade, and should be protected in the upcoming expansion draft in 2020-21. Sanheim possesses so much skill, and value for the orange and black. He is at the very least a solid top four pairing Defenseman in the NHL, thus trading him, or not protecting him would set us back a few years. Moreover, finally Interim Head Coach Scott Gordon is using him properly, with Sanheim averaging 20 minutes a game since Gordon became the Head Coach of the Flyers. Here’s a breakdown of Sanheim’s ice time in the four games that Gordon has coached the orange and black:
With Sanheim now on the top pairing with Provorov, this should help alleviate some pressure off Provorov’s shoulders. Moreover, switching Provorov for Sanheim on PP2, might help clear Provorov’s mind mentally. Provorov has the weight of the Flyers Defense on his shoulders in just his third year in the NHL. That is a tall task for a young man who is only 21 years old.
Sanheim has the will to succeed at a high level, and the sky is the limit for this young stud. He should be utilized to his fullest potential. This young man in Sanheim has the billing to be a very good Defenseman for the orange and black for years to come. One thing is certain Flyers fans, the future is bright in Flyer land.
Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports