Flyers still high on Travis Sanheim despite demotion

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Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim shoots the puck against the New York Islanders on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 in Philadelphia.

DETROIT – Travis Sanheim, the rookie defenseman who was sent to the minors Monday, is going to be an important part of the Flyers’ plans down the road, coach Dave Hakstol said.

“There are so many parts of his game that make you really excited for the future,” Hakstol said before Tuesday’s game in Detroit. “Whether that future is later this year or maybe further down the road, he has all the elements in terms of his skill set, skating, and puck skills – and to go along with that, his mental process. It’s all there.”

Hakstol said it’s a matter of Sanheim “gaining a little more maturity, and he’s going to be an outstanding player in this league.”

Sanheim, 21, had been a healthy scratch in nine of the Flyers’ last 10 games before being sent to the Phantoms. He had a goal, four assists, and a team-worst minus-10 rating in 35 games.

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Sanheim’s stats, gamelog | Flyers team stats

In some of the last games he played with the Flyers, “he probably lost a little bit of the confidence, and that can happen to a young defenseman in this league,” Hakstol said. “I think for him to go and play some games in the American League and get himself back to the top of his game is really important for him.”

Hakstol said Sanheim needs to play with confidence in his reads and his gaps “and react really quickly or the play will pass you by. As a young defenseman, those are things you learn, and they allow you to be much more aggressive as you trust your gaps.”

Mark Alt, 26, was recalled as the extra defenseman. The righthanded-shooting Alt was solid in eight games with the Flyers earlier this season: “He was able to jump in the lineup and play with confidence,” Hakstol said.

“Every day up here is a gift for me,” said Alt, who said his earlier time with the Flyers boosted his belief that he can play in the NHL. “I’m staying in shape, staying ready just in case something happens. That’s what I’m here for.”

Birds on the brain: Flyers at the Eagles game, including fun photo of Sean Couturier’s hat