The Flyers opened camp with many players hoping to make an great impression and secure their spot on the NHL roster. Camp can break as many dreams as it makes, as players showed up or were shown out this preseason. With the regular season underway, here’s how some of them responded during the preseason.
Travis Sanheim: Stock Down
Despite the failed attempt to trade him, it appeared that veteran defenseman Travis Sanheim would have a chance to cement himself as the team’s top defender in the preseason. With Cam York yet to assert himself, Sanheim was an obvious alternative. He added 15 pounds of muscle in theoff season in an effort to stay stronger on the puck. This news was reason for optimism. Sanheim’s play in the preseason quickly undermined that narrative.
Sanheim had been plagued with mental errors and sloppy play throughout the preseason. That is not atypical for the preseason, but at the same time not a heartening sign for a veteran player hoping to elevate their game. Further, despite the extra weight, Sanheim was still consistently bullied by smaller players in his own end. Offensively, he contributed only a secondary assist in three games. He did show more of a willingness to join the rush in the preseason. Joining the rush was a hallmark of his high scoring days in juniors, and seeing it resurface is a promising development.
The good news is there will be opportunity for Sanheim to assert himself and raise his game, as no one has distanced themselves as the clear top defensemen. The Flyers will need a confident and offensively aggressive Sanheim if they hope to contend for a playoff spot. He still has work to do to achieve that form.
Cam York: Stock Down
York played well last year, with the tougher assignments being handled by Ivan Provorov. The knock on York last season was defensive coverage, puck security against the forecheck, and his compete level. After the first period of preseason hockey, York let the world know that each of those concerns were still valid.
He did bounce back over the course of camp, and looked much better than in the opener, but there are still reasons to be concerned. First, York is not the elite offensive defensemen that he was touted to be on draft night. He is not Shayne Gostisbehere, but does make nice plays in transition to get the Flyers attacking. Defensively, he is still not great, but not only because of being outmatched physically. York still seems to get lost on defense, leaving men uncovered in high danger areas. While the Flyers may be willing to over look some of the deficiencies York’s size present, they may not be able to tolerate so many mental mistakes from an “intelligent” player.
York did show some fluid and smart passing in the preseason, and given the state of the Flyers roster, he will be given continual chances to claim ice time even if he struggles. However, the indicators now point to a slow start to the season for York rather than taking his game to the next level.