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Sanheim pick continues Flyers' focus on defense

Saturday, 06.28.2014 / 7:59 AM / News
By Sean McCullen
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Sanheim pick continues Flyers\' focus on defense
Defenseman Travis Sanheim got his first taste of how loud Philadelphia Flyers fans can be Friday night, and he liked what he heard.





PHILADELPHIA -- Travis Sanheim got his first taste of how loud Philadelphia Flyers fans can be Friday night, and he liked what he heard.

After the "Let's go Flyers!" chants had subsided, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall called Sanheim's name as the No. 17 pick at the 2014 NHL Draft, held at Wells Fargo Center for the first time.

"Being in the building today, the fans were crazy and you can see the passion. So I know it's a hockey city, and I'm lucky to be here," Sanheim said. "Leading up to the Philadelphia pick, when the fans started going nuts and you could feel the passion in the building and I was starting to shake, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stand if they picked me. It's a great feeling."

The Flyers have made a concerted effort to bolster their defense corps with their top picks the past two drafts. They selected Samuel Morin in the first round and Robert Hagg in the second round in 2013.

Sanheim is the ninth defenseman drafted by Philadelphia in the past three years.

"We've got a real good young group of defensemen now. We have a real good young group of forwards on our big team," Hextall said. "If you look at our guys, it's a young group up there. So these guys are going to join these young forwards in two, three, four years. You've got a mental picture in your mind of our team in three or four years, and I get excited. I get really excited."

WATCH: TRAVIS SANHEIM MEETS THE PHILLY MEDIA

PART 1: Being Selected & His Style
PART 2: Explains his connected to Ron Hextall

There were reports in the hours before the draft that the Flyers were discussing a trade with the Florida Panthers to move up to the No. 1 pick, presumably to take defenseman Aaron Ekblad, whom the Panthers ended up selecting.

"We tried a number of things," Hextall said, calling reports that the deal broke down due to the Flyers' refusal to part with forward Wayne Simmonds "false."

Sanheim, 6-foot-3, 181 pounds, was rated No. 53 by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters eligible for the draft. The Flyers took notice of Sanheim during the latter part of his rookie season with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. He also was highly noticeable playing for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, when he had six assists.

"We really liked him. In the second half of the year, the kid just rose and rose and rose," said Hextall, who is from Brandon, Manitoba, about an hour from Sanheim's hometown of Elkhorn, Manitoba. "And if you look at him, he's a young boy. There's a lot of upside. He's going to fill out and get a lot bigger."

Sanheim finished with five goals and 24 assists and was plus-25 in 67 games for Calgary as a rookie. Those numbers and his solid international play helped him jump up from No. 167 in Central Scouting's midterm rankings.

Sanheim will continue his development in juniors next season.

"I can tell you [Flyers player development coach] Kjell Samuelsson, he might as well get a place out in Calgary this year; he's going to be out there a lot," Hextall said. "And so it's now time for Travis to take the next step and work hard and eat right and develop his body and develop himself mentally and become a more impact player in the Western League. There's a growth period here. He's a long ways from playing in the NHL."

Sanheim wasn't sure he was going to be selected in the first round, but he had an inkling following an interview with Flyers personnel Thursday that Philadelphia was going to select him.

"I had a feeling it was going to be first round," said Sanheim, whose mother's stepbrother is related to Hextall. "My Under-18s were kind of where my stock rose, and that was after Central Scouting came out with their rankings. I had a feeling I was going higher than where they had me ranked."

Sanheim compared his game to that of St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

"He's a pretty good skater and he sees the ice well, and that's a guy I model my game after," he said.

The Flyers have five picks during the final six rounds of the draft on Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN-US, NHLN-CA).

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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