Having spent the past seven weeks with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Travis Sanheim has been waiting for a chance to make his way back to the Flyers’ NHL roster, as have many fans that were looking for him to get another shot after an up-and-down first 35 games in Philadelphia.
That time has come, at least for now:
The Flyers’ release on Sanheim notes that his recall has been made under emergency conditions, which means that the team would not be able to ice a full defensive lineup had they not made this callup. Some simple math here would suggest that this means that two defensemen currently on the roster have some sort of injury that would render them unable to participate in tomorrow’s game against Winnipeg.
Who could those be? Johnny Oduya only played in nine seconds of the third period of last Sunday’s game against Florida, and hasn’t played since then. He figures to be one, though Oduya reportedly was at (optional) practice on Friday. It’s tough to figure who the other one will be; all six active defensemen played fairly normal amounts of ice time on Thursday night. Flyers.com writer Bill Meltzer suggested that the hit Andrew MacDonald took late in the second period on Thursday night against Boston, in which he got kneed in the head by Brad Marchand, could have taken him out of the picture, though MacDonald stayed in the game and played a typical 20 minutes of ice time.
Could be both MacDonald (maybe that Marchand hit he took at end of pd) and Oduya injured bu I don't know.— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) March 9, 2018
It’s also possible that Hextall could be stretching the truth regarding injuries here so that he could preserve the team’s post-deadline call-ups (each team only gets four player call-ups after the trade deadline, and the Flyers have already used one to recall Oskar Lindblom). We won’t tell anyone, Ron.
Either way, in terms of figuring out who Sanheim is replacing, we may be in the dark here for a bit until tomorrow’s game rolls around. In any case, though, Sanheim is back with the Flyers, and (barring an unforeseen injury to either Ivan Provorov or Shayne Gostisbehere) he’ll have a chance to shore up a second or third pair on defense that needs some help. Since December 23, the Flyers have been outscored 53-39 at 5-on-5 when at least one of Provorov or Gostisbehere wasn’t on the ice. Their defensive depth has left something to be desired, and whether this call-up is a short-term injury bandage or a potential rest-of-the-season gig for Sanheim, he’ll get a shot to address that issue.
In 18 games with the Phantoms, Sanheim posted 16 points (one goal, 15 assists). He also, per Brad Keffer’s Phancy Stats site, posted a 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage of 55.83 percent. Hextall has in the past voiced doubt upon the idea that a player can be “too good” for a lower league, but Sanheim clearly seems to be punching below his weight class in Lehigh Valley. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles things on Saturday.