Flyers

End to End: Which prospect are you most eager to see at Flyers rookie camp?

End to End: Which prospect are you most eager to see at Flyers rookie camp?

Throughout the offseason, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End today are CSNPhilly.com reporters Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Which Flyers prospect are you most eager to see at rookie camp?

Dougherty
With rookie camp beginning Monday, the rookie game Wednesday and training camp Friday, there are a plethora of young players worth watching before the regular season begins. Let's stay away from Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom. Even the defensive prospects, too. We're all going to have our eyes on Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers.

The one prospect I am most looking forward to seeing during rookie and training camp is Russian center Mikhail Vorobyev, who popped at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championships. Vorobyev doesn't figure to factor into the forward competition this season, as it will be his first season in North America. Vorobyev will spend his first season in Lehigh Valley.

But there are plenty of reasons to watch Vorobyev. He was an unknown talent in Russia until the world juniors, and the Flyers selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft "probably because he was in Russia — he was hidden a little bit," GM Ron Hextall said in July. This will be our first chance to see Vorobyev in a competitive camp with the Flyers.

Vorobyev showcased a skill set that I don't think many of us knew he had over here during the world juniors, and the Russian factor was a part of it. In the KHL, he had a solid role as a 19-year-old with Salavat Yulaev Ufa, but it wasn't a role in which he was able to flash what he can do offensively. Once with his peers at the world juniors, he displayed playmaking and vision that created some buzz among Flyers fans.

What he will pan out as an NHL prospect still remains an uncertainty, but I believe he has the potential to blossom as a middle-six pivot. He's a player that I am going to keep my eye on this season at Lehigh Valley, and I think during camp, he'll be a prospect to watch — largely because we still haven't seen much of him.

Hall
Every which way, Sanheim looked like an NHL defenseman at July's development camp.

He has filled out physically, standing at 6-foot-4, 199 pounds. His offensive game is impressive, without a doubt his biggest strength. And his skating has improved to the point in which it looks fluid and natural.

Oh, and his confidence is not lacking — exactly what you want to see from the 21-year-old.

"I feel like I'm ready, I'm going to compete for a spot," Sanheim said in July. "Until somebody tells me differently, that's my goal. I'm coming to make the Flyers."

So I'm curious to watch Sanheim compete at camp and see how NHL-ready he looks with the Flyers' brass closely evaluating. With a little bit of time last season, the 2014 first-round pick grasped the learning curve at the AHL.

"He did a really good job last year from start to finish — got a lot better," Hextall said this summer. "The adjustment on the first month, month and a half, where he was going too much up ice, a little bit irresponsible and all of a sudden, a month, month and a half in, figured that part out. That was a huge step for him. He got better, he got better throughout the year and he needs to continue on that."

Morin and Hagg are the likely candidates to fill the Flyers' two open spots on the blue line, but Sanheim is out to prove he's just as much the part.

Travis Sanheim's defense quickly progressing on the fly

ap-travis-sanheim.jpg
AP Images

Travis Sanheim's defense quickly progressing on the fly

The Flyers had a complete off day Friday and you couldn’t blame Travis Sanheim if he wanted to lounge around all day and just scroll through the TV channels.

For the first time since Philadelphia became his permanent residence, Sanheim now has a connection to the outside world. His television is finally hooked up to hundreds of channels. When asked if there’s one show or program he’s looking forward to watching Sanheim replied, “Just hockey games. I just love to watch hockey, even if we’re not playing.”

Until now, that’s been Sanheim’s only option.

With the help of video coach Adam Patterson, the Flyers have wired each player’s home so they can review each game, and more importantly, shuttle through shift-by-shift so players like Sanheim can perform some self-assessment when they’re not at the rink. 

Travis will probably go back and evaluate the second-period play during Thursday night’s game against the Jets when he lost control of the puck at the blueline, couldn’t recover and was caught up ice, which led to Winnipeg scoring a 2-on-1 goal, cutting the Flyers lead to 2-1.   

“I think I have a good ability to turn the page when I do make mistakes, whether its big or small and not letting it affect and creep into my game,” Sanheim said. “Right now, I’m just focusing on the little areas of my game defensively and trying to make smart reads and not try to give up too much defensively.”

There has been a significant progression in Sanheim’s game just over the past few weeks coming off some early season growing pains starting in his NHL debut in Los Angeles. There have been some coverage and positional breakdowns, but like any rookie, he’s beginning to clean up those areas of his game. 

After the 4-game road trip to begin the season, Sanheim was pulled for a few games in favor of Brandon Manning, but he was reinserted in the game against the Predators and hasn’t been a healthy scratch since. 

“Sanny just keeps becoming more and more consistent and more and more comfortable,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “Travis is a player that really had to earn his way onto this team. Everybody does, but coming into camp he just put one day after another of good performances and he’s continued that as we’ve gone on into the regular season here. He’s an exciting young player.”

“I’m starting to settle in a little more, Sanheim said. “I’m happy with how my play has been growing as a player over the last couple of weeks. I think just my confidence. Being able to make plays with the puck, seeing the ice.” 

The numbers also suggest the defensive aspect of his game is coming together. After a rocky month of October that saw him finish with a minus-6 rating, Sanheim has bounced back in November and is currently a plus-2. While positionally he’s still learning the game at the NHL level, he has shown tremendous control with the puck on his stick. 

At 5-on-5 play, Sanheim has been credited with just four giveaways in nearly 226 minutes of ice time, or a ratio of one giveaway every 56:29 of ice time, which is by far, the best on the team. Comparatively, Shayne Gostisbehere has struggled in this area recently and has 14 giveaways this season in almost 262 minutes, an average of one giveaway every 18:47. 

While we’re still waiting to see the dynamic element of Sanheim’s offensive game that he displayed during the preseason, he’s picking his spots and finding those seams when he can take advantage of the defense. As Travis found out, the recent home-and-home series against the Wild was not one of those opportunities when he was held without a shot in both games. 

“You learn how little space you have out there,” Sanheim said. “Just the other night against Minnesota, how good they are defensively. You don’t get a lot of space. When you get your chances, you got to try and make the most of them.

“Obviously, I’m not allowed to do the offensive stuff that I could in junior and skating the puck up. I think it’s something I learned last year was making a good first pass and having an ability to read the play and jump up and find seams in areas that create space and offense as well.”

Thursday, more than 50 family and friends made the three-hour drive from Elkhorn, Manitoba, to Winnipeg to watch Travis play for the first time.

They may not notice it right away, but the kid from the tiny town on the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border is already making great strides in a short amount of time in his first full NHL season. 

Radko Gudas facing suspension, offered in-person hearing for slash

Radko Gudas facing suspension, offered in-person hearing for slash

Here we go again.

Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas has been offered an in-person hearing by the NHL for his dangerous slash to the back of the head on Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault in Thursday's loss. That date and time of the hearing is TBD.

Gudas was handed a game misconducted — the sixth of his career — and was tossed for his unnecessary slash. Was it dirty? Judge for yourself in the video above.

The NHL certainly seems to think it was intentional, however. An in-person hearing means Gudas is staring down a suspension — and a lengthy one, too — should the NHL discipline him. In-person hearings warrant a suspension of at least six games, as opposed to a suspension of five games or fewer that would be discussed in a phone call.

While the slash was certainly grounds for a suspension, Gudas' reputation is also working against him. The D-man is a repeat offender and was last for six games in Oct. 2016 for a late hit. 

In his absence, the Flyers figure to get Andrew MacDonald back from a lower-body injury within the next week or so. MacDonald injured his leg while blocking a shot Oct. 21 vs. Edmonton. The Flyers are 3-5-3 in his absence. Mark Alt, who is currently serving as the team's seventh defenseman, also figures to step in should MacDonald not be ready for Saturday's game vs. Calgary.