Flyers Deal with Sanheim Should Close Offseason
Over the weekend, the last piece of business for the Flyers this offseason came complete. Maybe.
With five days remaining until a scheduled arbitration date, the last remaining arbitration-eligible player in the league without a contract, the Flyers and defenseman Travis Sanheim reached agreement on a two-year deal with an AAV of $4.675 million on Saturday afternoon.
Sanheim, 25, played in 55 games last season and had just 15 points, including three goals. In the previous season, Sanheim had eight goals and 25 points in 69 games, potentially on pace to set new career-highs in both goals and points before the season’s abrupt end due to COVID-19. In the playoffs in 2020, Sanheim had one goal and seven points in 16 games.
Last season, Sanheim was also one of two defensemen, alongside Ivan Provorov, to log an average of over 20 minutes per game of ice time, totaling at an average of 21:53. Sanheim will likely fall into a second-pairing role this upcoming season.
“A lot of changes. A lot of new faces. I think everyone's excited,” Sanheim said on Monday. “I think we see a lot of good things in the moves that were made and gets us excited to get back to Philly. I know speaking with the other guys and the potential that we see. Chuck's done his job. Now it's up to us to come together as a group and show him the moves that he made and why he did them.”
So now that Sanheim is signed, what happens next for the Flyers? For now, probably nothing, but this move doesn’t necessarily mean their offseason is over just yet.
With Sanheim’s $4.675 million cap hit, the Flyers fall $281,477 below the cap ceiling with 22 players on the active roster, according to CapFriendly. That is one player short of the maximum that teams usually carry and leaves them with essentially no flexibility to make an additional move. That figure also includes the contracts of Morgan Frost and Tanner Laczynski, but not the contract of Wade Allison, so there are certainly some moving parts.
The simple fix to that is that Allison’s contract would simply replace one of Frost or Laczynski, but that would still leave the Flyers with minimal cap space available with a 22-man roster. That’s not ideal for teams that will likely have some interchanging players throughout the season.
This at least makes it possible that the Flyers could look at a player like Nicolas Aube-Kubel, who has a cap hit of $1.075 million, and consider placing him on waivers and trying to bury his cap hit in the minors or trying to trade him. The CBA allows for a contract up to $1.125 million to be buried at the AHL level.
Another option would be to add a player via trade that will spend the season on long-term injured reserve. This allows a team to get an allowance that exceeds the salary cap up to the price of the player’s cap hit, which could open up millions in cap space.
With over a month to go until the preseason, don’t make any assumptions about this roster just yet, even though it seems like it has been completed to this point.