‘Not-Yet-Elite 11’: Ranking of Philadelphia’s Most Promising Young Talent

10 of 12

3.) D Travis Sanheim-Flyers

Something tells me not even Travis Sanheim knows quite how good Travis Sanheim can be. The Flyers 2014 1st round selection (17th overall), was seen as a high-riser going into last year’s draft. Not only has he continued his upward trend, but he appears sharpening the angle of his rapid ascent towards stardom.

Sanheim, 19, is a member of the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL for the second straight season. Once just a blip on the radar of the National Scouting Service, Sanheim started to garner attention as the draft got closer. For his first ever draft pick as Flyers general manager, Hextall surprised some by taking Sanheim where he did considering the talent remaining on the board. Though it’s early, Hextall’s forward thinking may end up paying off in a colossal way.

TSN draft analyst Craig Button was on Sanheim’s rising star before most. While some outlets had Sanheim rated as a potential 2nd or even 3rd round pick, Button pegged Sanheim as a first round prospect with an elite ceiling. Of the 30 drafted prospects, Sanheim is 10th on Button’s list. This is a quote provided by Button from early March

"“Travis Sanheim is a slam-dunk pick,” Button said on air at TSN in Canada. “I think he’s the best 1996 [born] defenseman in the world.”"

To provide some context, Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers (last year’s first overall selection) is also a 1996-born defenseman.

Since being drafted, Sanheim has only continued to improve and refine what is becoming a frighteningly strong skill set. At 6’3″, he’s surpassed perhaps only by Gostisbehere (5’11”) in the skating department. His instincts and vision, particularly on the offensive end, are said to be light years ahead of his age bracket. Though he sometimes falters on the defensive half of the ice, it is said to be more as a result of blips in focus rather than functional shortcomings. Simply put, Sanheim’s ceiling is an elite number one defenseman. For those who have been living under a rock, there hasn’t been one of those in Philadelphia for quite some time.

Sanheim’s Hitmen team is currently involved in the WHL playoffs. To no surprise of those who follow the team, Sanheim has been the driving force behind the team’s postseason run. He recently scored a game-winning overtime goal to advance Calgary to the next round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, we cannot embed the video off the team’s website. Here is the link of the game’s highlights.

As a hockey guy, I’d put Sanheim as my number one player on this list. As a logical human being who knows the reputation of Flyers fans all-too-well, I’ll bite my proverbial tongue and slot him third instead.