Player: Travis Sanheim
Drafted By: Philadelphia Flyers (17th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 53 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6'3'', 181 lbs
DOB: March 29, 1996 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: WHL, Calgary Hitmen
Travis Sanheim has shot up most people's draft lists over the past few months. At the start of last season, he was barely on anybody's radar, but recently, many scouts projected the Elkhorn, Manitoba, native as a solid first-round pick with a lot of potential.
During the regular season, Sanheim scored five goals and accumulated 29 points in 67 games for the Calgary Hitmen. He also had an impressive plus-25 plus/minus rating.
Sanheim also led all Canadian defensemen with six assists in seven games at the World Juniors last year and showed why he is considered one of the top offensive defensemen in this year's draft.
Sanheim got better as the season went on and showed excellent poise when moving the puck for the Hitmen in a variety of situations.
Full Scouting Report
Sanheim stands 6’3” but is listed at only 181 pounds, so he obviously has some filling out to do and needs to grow into his body. Defensively, Sanheim plays more of a positional game than a physical one, although he did also improve in this area later in the season.
His stronger area is moving the puck. Sanheim impressed one scout, who was quoted in the draft preview issue of The Hockey News as saying the big blueliner, "shows a lot of poise handling the puck and isn't afraid to rush with it."
In addition to his ability to rush the puck, Sanheim showed he could quarterback the power play and made consistent passes that helped his team transition from defense to offense and break out of their own end.
Sanheim really made a big impression at the World Juniors this year, where scouts felt he truly stood out as one of Canada's top performers.
Elkhorn's Travis Sanheim named one of Canada's top 3 players at U18 WHC. Canada won bronze. #ctvwpg— Josh Crabb (@JoshRCrabb) April 27, 2014
According to Cory Wright of NewYorkIslanders.com, Trent Klatt of the New York Islanders player development added, "He's big, mobile and strong, has good movement with the puck and doesn't look out of place running a PP. He's a two-way defender, but waiting to see his offensive upside."
NHL Player Comparison
Sanheim reminds many experts of Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins. He has size and offensive ability but still needs to physically grow into his body a bit. Like Hamilton, Sanheim is a good passer and can quarterback the power play.
Sanheim still needs to add bulk to his body. He also needs to work on the defensive side of his game. He seems like a player who needs a little more time to get comfortable in a situation, but once he does, he should be a very good NHL player. Expect him to reach the NHL in 2016-17.
At his top potential, Sanheim can quarterback a power play and score 40-45 points a season as a defenseman.
Assuming he matures physically and improves a bit defensively, he should be a top-four defenseman with the chance of being on the top pair if everything falls into place and he is paired with the right partner.