Hockey News

Philadelphia Flyers 2023-24 Player Grades: Travis Sanheim – The Hockey Writers –

In this edition of our 2023-24 Philadelphia Flyers player rankings series, we take a look at 28-year-old defenseman Travis Sanheim. After having the worst season of his career, he had a great rebounding campaign this time around. What grade does he deserve this time?

Sanheim Casts In First Pairing Role

On October 13, 2022, Sanheim signed an eight-year extension with the Flyers worth $6.25 million per year. Set to keep him in Philadelphia until 2030-31, this was a big gamble, to say the least. After a few solid campaigns for the Orange and Black, he went on to have another terrific second pen to paper. In the second pairing that season, Sanheim's defensive numbers weren't great and he wasn't much better offensively.

After Sanheim's disastrous 2022-23 season, the Flyers' moves in the offseason made him, ironically, the best candidate for their first pairing going into 2023-24. As Ivan Provorov, the team's leading ice-time defense leader, faced off against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sanheim became the prime candidate to eat more minutes out of necessity.

Instead of struggling with increased workload and defensive responsibility, Sanheim saw a return to form. Taking on the role of a top pairing for the first time in his career, he actually excelled.

Travis Sanheim Philadelphia Flyers
Travis Sanheim of the Flyers (Amy Irvin / Hockey Writers)

Among the 70 defensemen who averaged 18 or more minutes of ice time at even strength, Sanheim was tied for 15th in expected goals against 60 (xGA/60) per 2.59 and 35th in expected goals percentage ( xGF%) at 51.1. For a defenseman in 92 percent of the ice time at even strength (19:33 average), Sanheim's ability to press opportunities was at a high level.

Sanheim is one of those players where the stats don't paint the whole picture, however. Although the numbers were good, he had his ups and downs on the ice. While he helped the Flyers get out of the defensive zone and was calm under pressure, he had a defensive lapse that left Philadelphia in dire straits. With these mistakes sometimes leading to goals, it wasn't a good idea when it happened. Staring at Puck was undoubtedly his greatest weakness, and it certainly bit him a few times.

Even with some of the negatives, Sanheim's numbers don't lie. He was among the top penalty-killing defensemen in the NHL, posting a short four points to go along with that. Speaking of points, he had career highs in goals (10), assists (34), and points (44) in 81 contests. Although he was 20 years old, the full story is that he was a decent first-team player even though he was paid second rate. At the end of the day, the Flyers couldn't ask for much more from him.

Exploring the Future of Sanheim

As Sanheim takes a step in the right direction, his future looks bleaker than ever. He should have some interest in him on the open market if the Flyers were thinking of buying him, as quality four defensemen don't grow on trees.

That being said, Sanheim controls his future through a no-trade clause in his contract. He gets the last word, so a move at this point doesn't seem imminent in any way. Even though flyers have been redesigned and having more options would be nice, their hands may be tied here.

If the Flyers keep him for a while, Sanheim could be useful in developing the younger players on the roster. 23-year-old Cam York came in first place with Sanheim as his running mate, and that was good for both of them. Having a defensive teammate has undoubtedly done the youngster a favor.

If the Flyers find someone to match up with York, Sanheim could remain useful next to a small defenseman like Jamie Drysdale. The 22-year-old has a lot of talent, but he just needs help putting it all together. Keeping Sanheim around and having him team up with Drysdale might help. A skilled partner can be an asset to the development process.

Related: Flyers 2023-24 Player Ratings: Jamie Drysdale

As it stands, Sanheim could be a valuable contributor to the contender. In Philadelphia, he can serve as the quality defensive partner every young player wants. He's not perfect, but there's also a lot to like about his game.

Sanheim Final Grade

Sanheim's progression wasn't exactly an unexpected twist, but the rate at which he progressed was certainly impressive. Instead of being overpaid, he now earns every last cent of his salary. Sometimes it only takes one season to make a difference. Overall, the B-plus grade seems fair for the services it has provided.

Making his NHL debut in 2017-18, Sanheim is already a seven-season veteran for the Orange and Black. Whatever his future holds, his legacy so far has been a positive one.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button