Travis Sanheim remains a part of the Philadelphia Flyers, but there was a brief moment where it looked like he wouldn’t. A potential blockbuster trade between the Flyers and St. Louis Blues was on the table. Along with Kevin Hayes, Sanheim’s name was floated around as well. Coming back the other way would’ve been at least Torey Krug before he invoked his no-trade clause, something Sanheim was days away from having.
It can be hard for athletes to stay away from social media, especially during a time in which their name is being tossed around in trade rumors. Sanheim joked that he had no idea, before admitting that he was often on his phone during that time.
"“It sucks, it’s not a position you want to be in, but it’s a business and I understand it and where the team is at,” Sanheim during after day two of training camp on Friday. “In saying that, I’m here today. There’s a reason I signed here for eight years. I want to be in Philadelphia, I’m excited, I like the group that we have. Now it’s kind of up to me, I guess.”"
A trade between the Flyers and Blues did end up happening, though Hayes was the only player to end up in St. Louis. Being almost traded and returning to the team that was looking to move you could have a player feel like they no longer want to be there. Sanheim put that thought to bed, reiterating the reason he signed an eight-year deal to remain in Philadelphia.
It’s understandable that the Flyers were potentially looking to move on from Sanheim. There are looking to get younger and have a lot of defensemen that are on the cusp of the NHL. Factor in Sanheim’s contract and his past season and it was fair to wonder what his future could looking like despite signing the long-term deal before the start of the year. While his 23 points were still the third highest of his career, there often wasn’t any consistency in his game. Things came to a head when Sanheim was scratched in Calgary despite having many friends in family in the stands. It’s a business as Sanheim sad, but that could’ve left a bad taste in his mouth.
There doesn’t appear to be any bad blood between the defenseman and the head coach, however. Sanheim declined to say the two sides didn’t like one another and have actually gotten to understand each other a lot more going into the is season.
"”There was no hard feelings on either side. We had good conversations, had a good chat with Torts this summer. Kind of go over some of the expectations and understanding of each other a little more. I think it was good. Same thing with Jonesy coming into camp.”"
Sanheim knows, though, that the Flyers have plenty of opportunity and open spots going into the season. And coming off of a down season, he needs to keep proving the he is someone the team can rely on. That’s part of the reason Sanheim declined an invitation from Canada to the World Championships. It would’ve been the second year in a row in which he represented Canada. But during last season’s tournament, Sanheim ended up fracturing his foot in the semi-finals which costed him six weeks of training in the summer.
While declining to say it affected him last season, there’s now doubt the shorter amount of training time could’ve been part of the reason Sanheim struggled at the beginning. So the extra time in the summer to work on his game this time around will likely be a big help. Especially as the Flyers aim to turn this thing around and build things the right way. With that comes changes, something the team already saw last season and will continue to see for the next year or two. Sanheim is ready to be a part of that and wants to take on more of a leadership role.
"“There’s gonna be changes as we try to build this and you saw that last season with the forwards and those guys taking step. We gotta try to grow the backend. I want to be a leader back there, I wanna lead by example and have a good season.”"
Sanheim will have to do that on the right side of the ice to start as the Flyers want to give Cam York a chance to play his natural side. It’s not something that is completely foreign to him as he often did that when paired with Ivan Provorov. He also played there frequently during his time in the AHL. Maybe a change could help kick Sanheim back into gear. Maybe another year under Tortorella’s system can help him manage expectations better. We won’t know the answers to this for at least a few weeks.
What we do know is that Sanheim is in need of a bounce back season. If he is unable to do it, serious questions will continue to be raised about his future in Philadelphia. But if he can rise to the occasion, all will be forgotten.