On Thursday, the Philadelphia Flyers announced that they re-signed defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to a five-year $25.5 million contract. And the immediate chatter online is what will happen with Travis Sanheim. If the latter is available should the New York Islanders be interested?
After all, Sanheim is a left-shot top-four defenseman. Which is one of the Islanders big needs as they undertake a (hopefully) quick retool. So, should they be interested in Sanheim?
New York Islanders: Should they have interest in Sanheim?
On the year, Sanheim has 20 points in 54 games while averaging 22:37 of ice time per game. For the plus-minus crowd, Sanheim is a +2, one of the few on the Flyers who holds a +/- positive rating. But just because he plays top-four minutes and puts some production doesn't make him the ideal target or even a good one.
A big part of the Islanders game is defense. They like to limit an opponent's ability to generate quality opportunities in their own end but carve out more for themselves at the other end of the rink. So can he do that?
While Philly isn't a good team this year, the underlying numbers support the notion that Sanheim is pretty good defensively, and pretty darn good offensively.
Those numbers are quite similar to Ryan Pulock's numbers before the 2021-22 season began. Just look at Pulock's card from the start of the year and you'll see the only big difference is that you have to switch the EV Offense and EV Defense between the two players.
Again, the difference is that Sanheim is better offensively than Pulock is. And well, that's perfectly fine. The Islanders need that.
What about transporting the puck? Is Sanheim a good player at taking the puck out of the D-zone and into an attacking position? Through the 2020-21 season (the last season with data), Sanheim exited the zone with possession 7.97 times per 60 minutes. More than Nick Leddy did for the Isles in the same year. Leddy exited the zone (with possession) 7.12 times per 60.
Sanheim also held a higher success rate at 66% to Leddy's 60.4% success rate in 2020-21. (Big thanks to Corey Sznajder for the zone exit numbers.)
So does that make Sanheim the perfect target for the Islanders? I wouldn't say "perfect" but it certainly makes him an interesting target in the Islanders if he's available via trade.