The Philadelphia Flyers have re-signed young defenseman Travis Sanheim to a two-year contract, avoiding restricted free agency. Sanheim will carry a $3.25MM cap hit over the two years and will still be an RFA when the deal expires in 2021. GM Chuck Fletcher released a statement:
We are very pleased with the progress Travis has made in his young career. He is a skilled, two-way defenseman with excellent size and mobility. He is a big part of our present and our future.
It’s hard to find a player on the Flyers that benefited more when the team decided to fire Dave Hakstol and install minor league head coach Scott Gordon last December. At that point, Sanheim had been playing sparingly for the Flyers, averaging just over 16 minutes of ice time and regularly seeing nothing in close games in the third period. Gordon, familiar with the young defenseman from his time with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, immediately promoted him and gave him more than 21 minutes in his first game. Sanheim would average nearly 22 for the rest of the season, and record 25 points in those 51 games.
That kind of production is exactly what the team now expects out of their young defenseman, who only turned 23 in March. Selected 17th overall in 2014, he will now have to impress another new coach, this time experienced bench boss Alain Vigneault. The Flyers will certainly give him that opportunity, but this time it may very well be alongside a veteran like Matt Niskanen or Justin Braun, both brought in this offseason to help stabilize the young Flyers’ defense.