Travis Sanheim 2014 First Rounders: Will They Make It?


One year ago, Travis Sanheim was not even on the radar of many NHL scouts. Now, he is a first round pick (17th overall in 2014) and makes up a part of the Philadelphia Flyers “Big Four” defense prospects. The question that Frozen Futures is now asking is this: Will he make the Flyers out of 2014 training camp?

The short answer is no. But this kids meteoric rise through the scouting community deserves to be examined.

Prior To The Draft

In one of his first interviews after being drafted into the NHL, Travis Sanheim said that only one year earlier he was just hoping to earn a roster spot on the Calgary Hitmen. Not only did he earn a spot, but his role on the team rose steadily throughout the season.

In NHL Central Scouting’s mid-season prospect rankings Sanheim ranked as the 167th best North American Skater. By the end of the scouting season (April), he had jumped over 100 spots and was ranked 53rd. However, in some of the late Arpil/May pre-draft tournaments his stock rose even more. By the time the draft was imminent, Craig Button had Sanheim ranked as the 8th best skater available in the entire draft.

So, going into the draft there was little consensus concerning Sanheim. Was he a top 10 pick? Was he a first rounder? Was his solid season an anomaly?

Philadelphia Flyers

Over the past few years the Philadelphia Flyers have been building themselves a solid stable of defense prospects. Their 3rd round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Shayne Gostisbehere, is a small, flashy playmaker who was one of the best defensemen in college hockey this past season. He led Union to the NCAA Championship.

Their 1st round selection in 2013, Samuel Morin, is a 6″7′, 220lbs defenseman who enjoys the physical side of the game. For a man his size he is a fantastic skater and has a fair amount of puck skills.

The Flyers also chose  highly-touted, Swedish defenseman Robert Hagg in the 2013 draft (41st overall). Hagg is a smooth skating, stay-at-home defenseman who plays well at both ends of the ice.

Sanheim has now joined all three of those prospects in what Flyers fans are calling the “Big Four.” Although all four players can skate well, Sanheim is the best skater of the bunch (although Gostisbehere is a close second). Sanheim has NHL height, 6″3′, but he will need to put some weight onto his skinny, 185lbs frame before he is NHL-ready.

Will He Make The 2014-2015 Team?

To make the Flyers out of training camp in 2014, Sanheim would not only have to out-perform NHL veterans like Braydon Coburn, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Michael Del Zotto, Nicklas Grossmann, and Nick Schultz, but he would also have to be better than the aforementioned prospects.

Sanheim likely has a solid NHL career in front of him. But it will not start this season. Unless he pulls of a miracle in training camp, Sanheim will be sent back to the WHL and given the chance to expand his role on the Hitmen even further. For more on Sanheim’s rise, check out this article I wrote about him following the NHL Draft.