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 5 goals, and 13 assists in 52 games played. Yes, he has made some mistakes, however, Sanheim has been phenomenal for the most part. Sanheim has a Corsi rating of 51.5% (EV) on the season, and finallllllly from the Lord’s prayers Sanheim has registered approximately 21:55 ATOI since Scott Gordon has taken over the helm. Sanheim has busted his butt and done well with his gap control this season, so he should be getting close to 20 minutes of ice time every game. Of course, the more Sanheim continues to play on the PP2 Unit it will increase his on ice totals, as well.
Under former Head Coach Dave Hakstol, he was reluctant to play Sanheim for 20 minutes a game. Sanheim’s ATOI Under Hakstol was close to 16 minutes per game. It’s great to see Gordon and Rick Wilson trusting Sanheim at key times, for instance with the 3-on-3 overtime. Moreover, Gordon and Wilson seem to be utilizing his skills much more than Hakstol did, as Gordon likes his Defensemen to join the rush Offensively. It seems to be a breath of fresh air for the young man in Sanheim.
— Jamey Baskow (@JameyBaskow) February 1, 2019
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- 53.4%
Shayne Gostisbehere- 52.4%
Travis Sanheim- 51.5%
Andrew MacDonald- 49.4%
Christian Folin- 48.4%
Ivan Provorov- 48.4%
Robert Hagg- 45.9%
This young Defenseman from Manitoba, CAN, Sanheim has really taken off since Wilson has become the Coach of the Defensive Unit. He has become a really top Defenseman, since being paired with Ivan Provorov. Sanheim possesses so much skill, and value for the orange and black. 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.
Travis Sanheim is averaging almost 22 minutes of ATOI per game under Gordon, compared to close to 16 minutes ATOI per game under Hakstol. The young man has earned every minute as he's vastly improved, and this includes the 3-on-3 Overtime. #Flyers #LetsGoFlyers #FlyersTalk
— Jamey Baskow (@JameyBaskow) February 3, 2019
Since Gordon and Wilson took over for the #Flyers. Sanheim has gotten better. This kid is flat-out good, and he's proving he's a number one Defenseman. One thing I like is trusting him in situations like in the 3-on-3 Overtime against the Bruins #Flyers #LetsGoFlyers #FlyersTalk
— Jamey Baskow (@JameyBaskow) February 2, 2019
With Sanheim now on the top pairing with Provorov, this apparently has helped alleviate some pressure off Provorov’s shoulders. 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, but Provorov seems to be back to his normal self thanks in large part to a talented Defenseman in Sanheim.
Sanheim has the will to succeed at a high level, and the skies 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.
Photo Credit: Alex Mclntyre