Travis Sanheim hopes blue line stability will help propel the Flyers
2021 has been a year to forget for the Philadelphia Flyers. When it comes to defense, this coming season is a chance for redemption. Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has made it his mission to avenge mistakes made last offseason, adding veterans to the blue line in an effort to stabilize the ship. For young defender Travis Sanheim, that might be all he needs.
Last weekend, the 25-year-old signed a new two-year contract with the team that drafted him. Sanheim played 55 games for the Flyers last year, struggling consistently at best. He made too many costly mistakes and struggled to match the physique of his opponents. His three goals were the lowest since his first year in the NHL, and a rating of -22 doesn’t exactly call it “elite”. The team’s save percentage with Sanheim on the ice was 0.872, which just needs to change in the future.
However, not all of Sanheim’s struggles have to be attributed to his individual game. The Flyers lost Matt Niskanen last offseason and couldn’t do enough to find a viable replacement, turning to Eric Gustafsson instead, which turned out to be a bad decision. Sanheim often found himself in a line with Phil Myers, dealing with evenly matched tasks and skating more minutes than most. This meant that he often ended up mixing sides and teammates throughout the season, which made it difficult to really find a groove. It’s something the former first-round pick discussed on a conference call today:
I think it was something they looked at and wanted to sort out. It’s hard to play different partners, different positions, whether it’s left or right. I think I can settle down, find someone, find some chemistry and someone who will improve each other and improve our team.
The players brought in will tick all the right boxes for Alain Vigneault. Ryan Ellis will partner Ivan Provorov after a slightly declining year due to a shoulder injury, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that he’s been as strong as defenders throughout his career. . Alongside Sanheim there will be Rasmus Ristolainen, who brings the size, strength and aggressiveness that Sanheim often lacks. With two new veterans in the locker room, the Philadelphia Flyers seem poised to at least right the wrongs of last year.
I think it’s enough to take it to the next level. I think you have guys who have been there, have done this. Ellis has played a lot of big games. I think we’re going to be counting on these guys to come and sort things out a bit. I think we need this. There were some nights there where we maybe ended up with a younger group. Sometimes you need that voice or that calm and someone who has done it before. I think we’re going to learn a lot from these guys. I am delighted not only to meet them, but also to learn from them.
Sanheim may only be 25, but he’s been a part of the squad long enough to become a fairly reliable part of the defensive machine. Since making his NHL debut, he has recorded a total of 22 goals and 63 assists, appearing in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games. While the squad has really gone to great lengths to add veterans to the mix, Sanheim’s familiarity with his existing teammates and experience within the squad will undoubtedly propel him into a position that will be just as beneficial to them. new guys than for those younger than him – a leadership role that Sanheim is more than happy to take on.
I think you are starting to establish yourself more. You start to feel like you’ve taken a bigger slice of the pie. For me, leadership is part of it and being able to show it with my experience and what I’ve been through in a way allows me to move forward and start playing this role.
If this is a bigger slice of the pie than Sanheim wants, that may explain why the Flyers preferred to give him a raise over the next two years. His production at the moment may not warrant one, but if Fletcher removed and corrected the external factors then he might well play up to and beyond that value as the blue line finds some serenity after a 2020 year. tumultuous.