Top-pick Travis Sanheim learning at Flyers camp

Travis Sanheim. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

In a one-on-one drill on the final day of Flyers development camp Tuesday, 2014 first-round pick Travis Sanheim was matched up against 2014 second-round pick Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

Aube-Kubel, a center, reversed direction quickly at the blue line, preparing to make his move toward the net. Sanheim, a defenseman, followed, but instead of clamping down on Aube-Kubel, he fell on his back attempting the about-face. He lifted himself off the ice quickly, scampering to recover.

There were other instances during camp when Sanheim, 18, looked anything but foolish, holding his own against top prospect Scott Laughton. Such are the early stages of development for Sanheim. He is a raw prospect who flashes potential, and he knows it.

The Flyers picked Sanheim 17th overall in June for the vast improvements he showed in the second half of his season playing for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. Entering the draft, he was ranked 53d among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

"Before the draft, I thought I was just scratching the surface at the end of the season," Sanheim said Tuesday. "I think there's a lot more to come and a lot more potential to my game. I'm hoping to bring that this season and make another step forward."

Sanheim scored five goals and recorded 24 assists in 67 games in Calgary, to go along with a plus-25 rating last season. He hopes to improve those numbers next season while playing major minutes in Calgary.

His first development camp reemphasized that he has a long way to go until he is NHL-ready.

"Some of the little things you thought maybe you were good at, you still need to work on just to get to the next level," Sanheim said. "Like my skating. I thought I was a good skater, but, at the same time, just to get to that next level, I need to improve it even more."

Strength is another part of his game that he wants to improve. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds, but he will try to pack on more weight to be able to muscle opponents off the puck and increase the velocity of his shot.

Teaching the players the right way to do things in all facets of their lives, such as gaining weight, is the most important part of development camp, Flyers coach Craig Berube said.

A nutritionist met with the prospects throughout camp, taking them shopping so they learn how to eat properly.

"Every player's different in how he needs to train and what he needs to work on," Berube said. "Those guys are just learning that stuff. And how hard you really have to do work. It's not just about going and working out. It's about training and training properly and putting in the time.

"It's just as important what you're doing off the ice as on the ice."

Learning all of this in the month after he was drafted was the first step for Sanheim. Now, he has to put it to use.