The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.
In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.
Today we will be looking at Travis Sanheim.
Sanheim has been a player that continues to grow with each season he plays – when he’s given the opportunity to succeed, that is. Through his first three years in the NHL, he has become a vital asset to the blue line for the Flyers, only further solidifying the defensive depth within the organization.
His partner shifted a few times this season between Philippe Myers and Justin Braun, but as time progressed, he and Myers were able to create a pretty exciting, dynamic second pair for the time they were together. Given Sanheim is only 24 years old and Myers 23, that’s one heck of a pairing to look forward to for years to come.
Sanheim also averaged 20:09 of ice time for 2019-20, which is a new career high. It’s a subtle indication that he’s earned the trust of head coach Alain Vigneault – and rightfully so.
Sanheim gets a B+.
Sanheim struggled early on, with several mistakes resulting directly in goals against, and it appeared that Sanheim had lost his way a bit. As the season wore on though, Sanheim stuck with it, found his groove and at times looked every bit the part of a first-round pick.
The thing that stands out most about Sanheim when he’s doing well is his skating ability for the size, which is a huge advantage. This season we saw Sanheim show why he could have a bright future in this league. After the early portion of this season, Sanheim’s plus-minus rating wasn’t looking great but he rebounded and finished the season with a plus-4.
Sanheim gets a B from me.
Sanheim went through a head-scratching three-game stretch early in the season when he had trouble staying upright with the opposition on the attack.
The stumbles were head-scratching because skating is one of Sanheim’s biggest strengths.
Vigneault wisely maintained his trust in the young blueliner.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to let things work themselves out, by putting him back there, showing him that we’ve got faith in him,” the Flyers’ head coach said Nov. 2. “Different guys have different money in the bank. He doesn’t have a lot of money in the bank but he’s got a little bit of money in the bank. I’ll give him time to work his way back. He’s a real good kid. Coaches have a tendency to be behind real good kids.”
Sanheim continued to take positive strides in the 2019-20 regular season after earning the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy last season as the club’s most improved player. This season, Sanheim played the most minutes per game (20:09) and shorthanded minutes per game (1:48) of his career, while forming a high-upside defensive pair with Myers.
Sanheim is 24 years old, starting to gain all-situation responsibility and hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, which is exciting.
A promising B for Sanheim as he put more on his plate and didn’t take a step backward.
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