Early in the offseason, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim seemed to be a serious candidate to be traded.
Along with most of his teammates.
But Sanheim, in particular.
Sanheim was coming off an up-and-down season after receiving a massive contract. He was healthy scratched by coach John Tortorella in a former home arena in which Sanheim looked forward to playing.
Rumors circulated that teams were interested in Sanheim. Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere, in an announced rebuild, also said he would listen to trade scenarios involving anyone.
Briere said he received calls about Sanheim’s availability. We don’t know if he was actively shopping Sanheim. We know this: Sanheim remains on the Flyers’ roster. On Saturday, his no-trade clause kicked in.
“I don’t imagine him being moved at this point,” Briere said Saturday. “And even going into it, I didn’t think he would get moved.
“But at the same time you listen. Like I said before, it’s my duty to listen. Nothing really made sense at this point.
“Obviously now he has a no-trade clause and we’re going to respect that.”
Sanheim, 27, signed an eight-year, $50 million contract in October. Some thought that was an overreach but Sanheim’s previous play and potential were appealing.
He was the Flyers’ first-round pick in 2014, the 17th overall.
“Guys go through ups and downs, especially when your team’s struggling,” Sanheim said at the end of the season.
“It’s pretty easy to fall out of place. I had a good run. I thought I put some good games together towards the end of the season and some bad ones in-between.”
Sanheim is 6-foot-3, 181 pounds, good size for a defenseman, a strong skater with an inkling toward offense. Taking a step back after a big contract isn’t what either the Flyers or Sanheim anticipated.
He has played 416 games over his six seasons. He has scored 36 goals, 103 assists and is a minus-24. The Flyers’ defense will have changes next season as Marc Staal was signed Monday. The Tony DeAngelo trade to the Hurricanes is expected to be completed next week.
“Early on, I felt his game, it was little bit of a roller coaster for Travis as far as his game goes last season,” Briere said.
“And that’s why teams were calling us on him, like they were on a lot of guys. The size, the way he moves, top-four defenseman — those are hard to find around the league.
“We did get a lot of calls. We did listen, just like I did with every player on the team but nothing made sense for us at this point.”
The Healthy Scratch
Sanheim was healthy scratched by Tortorella on Feb. 20 in Calgary. He had played in all 57 games to that point.
Sanheim had a bunch of family at the game in a rink where he played for three seasons with the Calgary Hitmen, his junior team.
“Still haven’t figure out why but that’s in the past, Sanheim said at the end of the season. “I’m over that. We’ve moved on. I think our relationship is just fine.
“I think we understand each other. I think he’s got a better understanding of my game now and I have a better understanding of what he expects of me.
“Hopefully going into next season we get a better outcome and I can play more consistently.
“The scratching obviously hurt me and probably something I wasn’t expecting, especially with where it was. There are certain games throughout a year, it gets long, you circle the dates that are meaningful to you.”
Sanheim believes his play improved in the second half of the season. And he might know why.
“The game I went into the rink and said I’m going to have fun tonight is when I turned the page and started playing better hockey,” Sanheim said.
“I think I had better games for sure [at the end of the season]. It’s more of my style of game, more skating, more getting up the ice, more O-zone play, creating offense.”
Flyers, In Case You Missed It:
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