More Sports:

July 28, 2023

What they're saying: Travis Sanheim has one of the worst contracts in the NHL

He can still turn his play around, sure, but even so, Sanheim will be skating with an expensive contract that just doesn't make any sense for a rebuilding team like the Flyers right now.

It's the slow point of the NHL offseason, but this summer especially has been quieter than usual.

Blockbuster trades and major free-agent signings have been severely lacking as teams and players both have gone into a holding pattern in anticipation of a salary cap increase next year. 

And as for the Flyers, well, they signed prospect Alexis Gendron to his entry-level deal the other day. There's that, and they do have to get Morgan Frost a new contract for this season, but that's about it for their to-do list. Their group for camp in September is pretty much set. 

There is still some stuff on the radar to highlight, however, so let's get right into it. 

Here's what they're saying about the Flyers in the dog days of summer...

A Sanheim money sink?

Dom Luszczyszyn | The Athletic ($)

Travis Sanheim signed an eight-year, $50 million contract extension just before the start of last season then proceeded to have a brutal one. 

It was yet another move by Chuck Fletcher that appeared to have gone south fast, and one that Danny Brière was looking to try to find an out of at the draft and before the contract, which included a full no-trade clause, kicked in on July 1. 

Nothing could get done, the date passed, and Sanheim is still a Flyer, now at a rate of $6.25 million per year until he's 35. 

He can still turn his play around, sure, but even so, he'll be skating with an expensive long-term contract that just doesn't make any sense for a rebuilding team like the Flyers to have right now.

So with all that in mind, The Athletic's hockey analytics writer Dom Luszczyszyn sees Sanheim's contract as one of the 10 worst in the NHL right now – the seventh worst to be exact. 

Wrote Luszczyszyn:

For the first time in his career, Sanheim was a net negative in terms of his relative impact on expected goals. That’s especially onerous on a bad Flyers team and while it might be easy to blame his partners, Sanheim still needs a find a way to drive the bus more at his price point. He’s being paid to be a top-pair defenseman where his value shouldn’t tank based on who he’s playing with.

In that sense, it’s a case of Sanheim playing things too safely and sacrificing his ability to drive offense in the process. His scoring chance contributions suffered a massive drop year over year — a shift that may be tied to the coach Philadelphia hired in 2022.

If that’s indeed the case, it shouldn’t be too hard for Sanheim to rediscover his form from two seasons ago and be the offensive driver the Flyers need from the back end.

That’s the short-term fix. Long term, this is still a tough contract given that Sanheim will be 35 at the end of it. Even if Sanheim does find his way back to top-pairing level, it’s hard to see him keeping that up for the duration of the entire contract. That’s going to be a tough ticket to live up to and the term length is the biggest reason Sanheim is on this list. [The Athletic, $]

When will the Cup drought end?

Nick Ashbourne | Yahoo Sports Canada

It's been 48 years since the Flyers last won the Stanley Cup, and right now they're not any closer to it. 

The full embrace of a rebuild offers a level of hope for the franchise not seen in quite some time, but at the same time, everyone knows that it's hope that won't be realized for years. 

So that Cup drought, unfortunately, isn't going anywhere. 

Over at Yahoo Sports, as part of a series detailing the NHL's longest Stanley Cup droughts, Nick Ashbourne went over the state of the Flyers and how much further they have to go – and it's a long way to go, with their chances now hinging heavily on Matvei Michkov becoming a star when he can come over in a few years. 

Wrote Ashbourne:

Michkov was widely considered to be the second-best prospect in the draft, and some talent evaluators have even described him as a generational talent. The fact that the offensively-gifted winger specifically wanted to play for the Flyers — and used the leverage his KHL contract afforded him to find his way to Philadelphia — is a massive shot in the arm for the franchise.

If the 18-year-old is able to reach his potential, the Flyers might have a franchise player to centre their team-building efforts around. It's far too early to assume that will be the case, but it's well within the possible range of outcomes for a team in dire need of a cornerstone.

It's tough to project out what a team built around Michkov could look like, but the Flyers have a solid amount of cap flexibility in the years to come, and the chance to accumulate some top picks while they try to turn this thing around.

Philadelphia is a long ways from competing for a Cup, but they have a logical route to becoming a contender — it's just going to take some time. [Yahoo]

Ashbourne also made note of the fact that the Flyers have come close a few times throughout the decades, but that with each run, hockey's next dynasty – be it Mike Bossy's Islanders, Wayne Gretzky's Oilers, the '90s Red Wings, or the Blackhawks of the 2010s – was there to stop them in their tracks. 

A weird trend – painful one too – that often leaves you thinking about what could've been. 

From the ground floor

Flyers Media Team

Speaking of Michkov, the latest installment of the Flyers' offseason documentary series "Liftoff" offers a behind-the-scenes look at the team's pre-draft process, then takes you on to the floor of the draft down in Nashville and the leadup to the selection of the Russian phenom at seventh overall. 

It's an interesting look at how the front office operates while trying to anticipate what the teams in front of them might do, and furthers the Flyers' efforts to be more transparent with their fans while trying to usher in a new era. 

It's going to take a while, and that's been clear the whole time, but Brière and Keith Jones have made it so that they have the time

Check out the new episode below:

Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports