Travis Sanheim has good jump. He shot up from 167th to 53rd in the Central Scouting in just half a Western League season. And not even Drew Doughty could ever say that.
Now, can Sanheim eventually go blueline to blueline at the same speed with which all 30 teams -- shrugging mostly at the sight of the first three months of his initial Western Canada League season -- suddenly got in line to interview him at the scouting combine?
Time will tell, but the first telltale sign that the Flyers hit a sleeper Friday night with the 17th pick came in a phone call after they chose the lean, not yet mean (14 penalty minutes), defenseman from the Calgary Hitmen.
“We made our pick and got a call right away [from a team wanting] our guy for two picks,” said Ron Hextall.
This was as interesting as it was validating. Almost until the Flyers chose the stringbean with the rankings of a jumping bean, Hextall had entertained trying to turn one pick into two.
“We didn’t think Travis would slide very far though,” said Hextall. So the Flyers took Sanheim, all 181 pounds of him, with the expectation of it turning that into 200.
When you chose in the middle of the first round, you don’t just take the next best player, but the guy who has the most growth potential. If this draft took place, say next December, not even the top four picks that seemed to separate themselves from the rest of the first round would be guaranteed to go that high again. Central Scouting did not agree with the Flyers about Sam Morin a year ago. It probably would agree with them now.
The rankings are fluid. Thanks to a good showing at the World Junior Championships, boy were they fluid in Sanheim’s case. And there was enough fluidity fast developing in Sanheim’s game this season for the Flyers to believe he has potential to someday play on the top four of a good NHL blueline.
“He is a really good skater, a kid with range, who moves the puck well,” said Hextall.
He is not ready for the NHL. (Director of Player Development) Kjell Samuelsson might get a place in Calgary because he is going to be out there all year. It’s time for Travis to take the next step, work harder, eat right, develop his body, develop mentally.
“We interview a lot of kids. The first thing you are looking for is does he have a beard, is he full developed. There might be this much upside instead of this much. And we took the player with the most upside.”
“This kid just rose and rose.”