News broke Monday afternoon that the Flyers had signed restricted free agent Travis Sanheim to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million, making $3.25 million annually. A bridge deal, but nonetheless, a deal. The 6’3”, 181lb defender has a positive outlook for the future, and where this team is headed under General Manager Chuck Fletcher.
“I’m obviously really excited. It’s a big step in my career. I’m looking forward to another two years with the Flyers. I’m really excited with the way the team’s moving forward and the moves we’ve made this summer.”
Knowing Sanheim is onboard for the next two season, at the least, Fletcher seemed pleased with the deal as well.
“He is a skilled, two-way defenseman with excellent size and mobility. He is a big part of our present and our future.”
With the deal being done, now it’s time to analyze why this was the right deal for both Sanheim and the Flyers organization.
First off, Sanheim’s cap hit makes up only 3.9% of the total cap for the Flyers. To put this into perspective, that’s less than what Gudas would have taken up with Washington, had Philadelphia not retained 30% of his deal. It’s less than Shayne Gostisbehere, who Sanheim figures to get more time than next year on the Flyer’s blueline. It’s less than Nikita Zaitsev and even Erik Gudbranson.
Best of all, it’s equal to Jack Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Way to go, Pittsburgh!
Next, this deal makes even more sense after learning that Sanheim will become an RFA, once again, the same year that fellow defenseman Matt Niskanen and his $5.75 million cap hit, come off the books as well. Combine those two contracts, and you have $9 million to play with, using some of it, if not all depending on performance, to give Sanheim his first big NHL contract.
Lastly, Sanheim’s deal expires the same year as the NHL Expansion Draft for Seattle. Now, that doesn’t come without a bit of risk. According to the NHL expansion draft rules, the Seattle franchise will have the three day draft period to speak to not just Sanheim, but all UFA’s, and RFA’s.
No matter the value of the contract, the Flyers would get no compensation if they decided to leave Sanheim unprotected, even given his pending RFA status.
The Flyers do, however, have the option of agreeing to a handshake deal of sorts, either with Sanheim, or Seattle, to make sure they can retain Sanheim’s services without having to protect him. This would be ideal, considering Phil Myers and Ivan Provorov will likely be among the three defensemen Chuck Fletcher chooses to protect. The third could be Sanheim, but could also be someone like Shayne Gostisbehere, or even a younger defenseman who breaks through into the NHL this coming year.
On the surface, Sanheim’s deal looks pretty good. Lower AAV, typical bridge deal you would expect for someone who likely will only continue to improve. Digging even deeper than that, you realize just how good this deal can be, given the circumstances surrounding the year it expires, and what’s happening that offseason.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports