Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
The first pick Ron Hextall made as Flyers GM, Travis Sanheim is probably the second best defensive prospect in the system behind Shayne Gostisbehere.
Sanheim was coming off a decent age 17 season in the WHL and really jumped ahead in the 14-15 campaign. Having turned 19 yesterday, he’s still eligible for another season of Junior hockey before making the jump to the professional ranks.
Sanheim’s jump to a near point per game defender is probably the first thing noticeable for him. He’s a puck moving defensemen, so the more he scores the better. At 6’3, 184, his frame could grow out a bit, but with the NHL moving towards a speed game, it’s no longer the detriment it would have been 15 years ago.
Projecting what he could do in the NHL, Sanheim’s offensive game is probably already NHL caliber. At 0.97 points per game in the WHL, Sanheim translates to 0.2522 points per game in the NHL or 21 points per 82 games right now. However, defensemen are a bit more variant than forwards so this isn’t something to take as gospel. Besides, with Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere already having gotten some AHL, and in Ghost’s case NHL, experience, along with having a multitude of defenders already under contract, there are precisely 0 circumstances for the Flyers to burn a year of Sanheim’s contract. Rather, let him develop by playing big minutes in all situations in the WHL. He’ll gain the endurance and stamina needed to become a big long term part of the Flyers blueline.
For a possible comparable, Mike Green of the Capitals had a bit slower development in the WHL.
Sanheim’s age 18 season outpaces Green’s by quite the margin at .97 points per game for Sanheim compared to .66 points per game for Green. And well, Green turned into an elite scoring defender at the NHL level because he was sent back Junior twice and spent a full season in the AHL and part of a second season in the AHL as well.
From an advanced star perspective, Mike Green is quite impressive as well.
Via Own the Puck
Obviously Green has slowed down with age and injury, but if Sanheim followed that career path, sans injury, he will be quite the force on the Flyers blueline.