5:30 PM: CapFriendly has detailed the full structure of Sanheim’s deal. It runs as follows:
Year 1: $5.125MM + $3MM signing bonus
Year 2: $5.125MM + $3MM signing bonus
Year 3: $5.125MM + $3MM signing bonus
Year 4: $6.125MM
Year 5: $1.875MM + $3MM signing bonus
Year 6: $1.875MM + $3MM signing bonus
Year 7: $4.875MM
Year 8: $4.875MM
Of note is also that Sanheim will have a full no-trade clause for the first four years of the deal, and then the clause will become a twelve-team no-trade for year five through year eight.
4:45 PM: The Flyers have now officially announced a contract extension for Sanheim. The deal is an eight-year pact with an average annual value of $6.25MM. Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher gave the following statement regarding the signing:
We’re extremely happy to have Travis under long-term contract and see him as a key piece of our team’s future. Travis has improved each season to become a highly reliable player and key contributor on our blueline. Furthermore, he is someone who has developed his entire career with us and has grown into a valuable leader for our team.
1:45 PM: The Philadelphia Flyers are once again showing that they have no interest in a rebuild. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the team is making progress on an extension with Travis Sanheim, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. The long-term deal would pay Sanheim around $6MM per season, though Friedman can’t confirm the actual figure that is being discussed.
It’s been five seasons in the NHL now for Sanheim, the 17th overall pick from 2014, and while he didn’t turn into the superstar defenseman that some early returns suggested, he is arguably the team’s most consistent player on the back end. Averaging close to 23 minutes a night last season, almost exclusively next to Rasmus Ristolainen, Sanheim recorded seven goals and 31 points, racked up 142 blocks, and was one of three regulars who finished the year with a positive goal differential (+9, to lead the team).
An extension in this case makes sense for the 26-year-old, who likely is just entering his true prime as an NHL shutdown defenseman. He was given heavy defensive deployment last year and will likely get much of the same this time around as Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo are given offensive touches and youngsters like Egor Zamula and Ronnie Attard are sheltered.
The biggest question, though, is whether or not the Flyers can actually turn things around without stripping down the roster first. Signing their players to big-money extensions only reduces the amount of surplus value they can offer, and a $6MM cap hit for Sanheim would mean the team has five defensemen over the $5MM mark for next year. One of those is Ryan Ellis, whose career is completely up in the air at this point, but even with him on the shelf it is a lot invested in a group that has struggled.
The Flyers were 27th in goals against last season with 294 and finished 29th in the overall standings. Over the summer they failed to really change the lineup very much, outside of adding DeAngelo and some toughness up front. While John Tortorella seems to have the group motivated for the upcoming challenge and players like Kevin Hayes are at a much better place health-wise, the question remains over whether the team would be better off trading away some of these expiring assets instead of extending them.
Regardless, Flyers fans should be excited about the fact they likely will get to watch Sanheim, a player they drafted and developed, for another several years. The big defenseman will start his season tonight against the New Jersey Devils, though partner Ristolainen is out with an injury for the season opener.