Report: Flyers ink Travis Sanheim to 8-year extension
Travis Sanheim will be a member of the Philadelphia Flyers for the foreseeable future.
After signing an 8 year contract with an Average Annual Value of $6.25M, that much is clear. But with any large contract extension, especially one signed in the midst of a dead-cap era, there is fallout. And with this deal, there’s plenty of fallout and plenty to discuss.
First, let me make this abundantly clear: Travis Sanheim is worth $6.25M a year in the NHL. Actually, he’s worth marginally more than that amount.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a steal by Chuck Fletcher. There was no Chucky masterclass, and nobody was fleeced. But this is a fair and reasonably team-friendly agreement when you look at the contract on its own merit.
Travis Sanheim was the team’s best defenseman during the 2021-2022 season. This is an incontrovertible fact. He boasted +9 plus-minus rating on a team so bad that odes and poems could be written in honor of their collective ineptitude.
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To come out on the plus end of a plus-minus stat in an environment so cruel and ridiculous? It required nothing less than moving mountains. And Sanheim did exactly that.
If last season was the ceiling for Travis Sanheim, it is a reasonably high one. And one well worth the money he’s going to be paid for the next eight years.
But there is no guarantee that this last season was Sanheim’s ceiling. Last year was a revelation for him. It was a breakout, and there is reason to believe that more could be on the horizon.
This coming season is going to be Sanheim’s age-26 season. Defenseman is a wonky position in the NHL, and far less predictable than Forward. If a forward hasn’t broken out by his age 24 season, it’s a pretty good bet that he never will–barring some exceptions. But for a defenseman? There is a fairly long list of them who hit a completely new level after turning 26 or 27.
Just look at the Hockey Reference pages for current-day star defenders like Roman Josi, Kris Letang, or even Victor Hedman. They were all varying levels of good. And they all hit a new level around this age.
If the Flyers believe that Sanheim is one of those late-blooming defenseman who’s very good now but is just waiting to explode? It’s a shrewd move to lock him up now.
Still, what if this is the ceiling for Sanheim? Is he still a good player? Absolutely, I said that already and I’ll say it again. Is he still worth this money? In a vacuum, he certainly is.
But we’re never in a vacuum.
With Sanheim’s extension, the possibility of moving him at the trade deadline for future assets is now all but dead. For a team whose coach just declared a rebuild without using the term? That isn’t great.
Furthermore, Sanheim will now join Ivan Provorov as Top-4 left-handed defenseman making over 6 Million a year for multiple years to come. This organization has three left-handed defenseman in the pipeline who all figure to have Top-4 potential: Cam York, Yegor Zamula, and Emil Andrae. They’re all coming very soon. They will all need jobs. And they all can’t sit on your third pair.
The logjam on the left side of this defense will be a problem in the near future.
Along with the simple problem of too many bodies, there could easily become one of too much doled out money. The Top-4 of this team is going to be making a collective $25M once Sanheim’s extension kicks in, and that is simply too much money to be handing out to a collective defense that is most accurately described as: mediocre.
The Flyers believe that keeping Travis Sanheim and dealing with the problems as they arise is preferable to the alternative of avoiding these problems but losing Travis Sanheim.
Maybe they’re right.
At the end of the day? There’s only one man who has the power to decide that. The man who just became 50 million dollars richer: Travis Sanheim.
Mandatory Credit: NHL.com