With the 2023-24 NHL Regular season bearing down on us. The Flyers will open the season against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 12th in Columbus. We here at EOP will spotlight a Flyers player every week. This week we will look at two players Travis Sanheim, and Marc Staal.
Travis Sanheim has been one of the mainstays on the Flyers blue line for quite some time. He has become one of the most dependable second-pairing defensemen in the league. That is what they want you to think.
While Sanheim scored seven goals again in 2022-23, he did have eight fewer assists from 2021-22. His +/- was also worse. It could have been the different partners that he has been paired with this season, but he has had a rough time. With a lot of young talent in the wings, the Flyers may move on from Sanheim to make room for Ronnie Attard, Egor Zamula, or Adam Ginning.
While Sanheim has shown his upside, the question is whether he can duplicate and take the necessary steps forward under John Tortorella. I understand that players can have a down year, but the Flyers needed Sanheim to step up this season. Being benched was a message for Sanheim. Taking the benching with class and professionalism bodes well for him and his future in Philly. Unfortunately, other players can ultimately take his spot.
Ronnie Attard, Adam Ginning and Egor Zamula are all fighting for a spot on this team. With the departures of Tony DeAngelo and Justin Braun, and Rasmus Ristolainen having his best year as a Flyer, Sanheim has become expendable. Danny Briere will be looking to improve this team. Getting more draft picks will certainly help speed up this rebuild.
Moving on from Sanheim would be a good move for the Flyers. Sanheim could be a good trade piece for a team needing a decent defenseman who they can use as a top-pairing or second-pairing guy. Sanheim being moved is a win-win situation. I fully believe that in John Tortorella’s system, he just doesn’t fit. The experiment was tried to see if Sanheim could develop into more than just an average piece.
Ultimately moving Sanheim creates cap space and a roster spot to allow the kids to battle for a spot on this team. There are too many players in Lehigh Valley who want to leap and ultimately might have a better ceiling than Travis Sanheim. Competition breeds talent and chemistry. Moving Sanheim creates that. We need to start believing our eyes when it comes to certain players on this team.
With the trade of Ivan Provorov, the release of Tony DeAngelo, and the retiring of Justin Braun the Flyers find themselves in desperate need of some veteran assistance on the blue line. Enter Marc Staal. Staal will be entering his 17th season in the NHL and will be joining his 4th NHL team. A career that he mostly spent with the New York Rangers; he is a consignment NHL veteran. He also has a history with Flyers head coach John Tortorella through their time in New York.
It’s no secret what his role will be with this team mentor, teacher, veteran, and role model. Make your choice. Staal will be asked to provide that leadership to the stable of young defensemen that the Flyers have. Staal is coming off helping the Florida Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Final. He skated nearly 21 minutes a night during that run after playing all 82 regular-season games and putting up 15 points.
Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.