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Flyers Sign Sanheim to Bridge Contract, Trade Hartman to Dallas for Pitlick

June 25, 2019, 10:07 AM ET [470 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

The Philadelphia Flyers announced on Monday that the club has re-signed defenseman Travis Sanheim to a two-year contract extension, carrying a $3.25 million average annual value. The deal preempts Sanheim's restricted free agency (RFA) this summer.

"We are very pleased with the progress Travis has made in his young career. He is a skilled, two-way defenseman with excellent size and mobility. He is a big part of our present and our future," general manager Chuck Fletcher said in a statement.

As with any bridge contract, the Sanheim deal carries benefits and risks for both sides.

For the Flyers, the obvious benefit is that going with a two-year deal significantly reduces Sanheim's cap hit in the short term. The risk is that, if Sanheim continues to progress at his rate of the last two seasons, his next deal could end up being more expensive than the cost of signing a long-term deal now. Upon expiration of the new deal in 2021, Sanheim will be an arbitration-eligible RFA.

For Sanheim, the benefit of the deal is that he gets a big immediate bump from his expiring entry-level contract, and sets himself up for a big bump from the new deal come 2021-22. The risk of a relatively short-term contract is the lack of security in case of long-term injury or stagnation of his play. Essentially, Sanheim is betting on himself that he will play to a level that pushes the value of his next contract higher than would signing a long-term deal now.

"I'm obviously really excited. It's a big step in my career. I'm looking forward to another two years with the Flyers. I'm really excited with the way the team's moving forward and the moves we've made this summer," Sanheim said in a statement.

With Monday's trade that sent Ryan Hartman to Dallas (see below), the Flyers are down to three unsigned restricted free agents: defenseman Ivan Provorov, right winger Travis Konecny, and center/left winger Scott Laughton. The team also still needs to sign a goalie. The club has roughly $17.14 million in open cap space remaining at present.



On Monday afternoon, the Flyers announced that they had traded arbitration-eligible 24-year-old restricted free agent right winger Ryan Hartman to the Dallas Stars in exchange for 27-year-old right winger Tyler Pitlick. Pitlick has one season remaining on the contract he signed with Dallas in 2017, carrying a $1 million cap hit. Hartman made $863,333 per season on his expiring deal.

A physical and agitating player who displays good speed and a bit of skill when he's at his best, Hartman enjoyed a 19-goal, 31 point season for Chicago in his 2016-17 rookie season but his play has been inconsistent the past two seasons. He was traded to Nashville during the 2017-18 season in a deal that fetched a first-round pick for the Blackhawks. This past season, Hartman got off to a strong start with eight goals by early December but then fell into a long offensive drought.

Dealt to the Flyers for Wayne Simmonds at the 2019 NHL trade deadline, Hartman dressed in 19 games for Philadelphia, posting six points (two goals, four assists) and 30 penalty minutes in a third-line/ fourth-line role. His most notable moment was actually his first shift as a Flyer; throwing a crushing check that brought the Wells Fargo Center crowd to its feet.

For the 2018-19 season, Hartman finished with 12 goals and 26 points in a combined 83 games between Nashville and Philadelphia. All of his points came at even strength; respectable overall production for a bottom-six forward.

Hartman's defensive play in Philly was inconsistent. He made a few good plays but was also a culprit on several weak-side coverage breakdowns that led to goals against. Additionally, discipline was periodically an issue. In a couple of games, he took multiple needless minors. In terms of his forechecking presence, there were some games where Hartman was highly effective in pressuring the opposition and some in which he was not noticeable.

The inconsistencies within his game is why Hartman will now be joining his fourth NHL organization. The flip side is that four organizations have been sufficiently impressed by what they've seen of him at his best to bring him into the fold and aim to see that version of the player on a more consistent basis.

Pitlick is not as talented offensively as Hartman, although there is not a huge gap. When Ken Hitchcock gave Pitlick an opportunity to move up from the fourth line during a portion of the 2017-18 season, the former Oiler responded. He finished with a career-best 14 goals and 27 points. This past season, playing under Jim Montgomery, Pitlick was set back by wrist injury that required surgery and was limited to 47 games (eight goals, 12 assists).

Both Hartman and Pitlick are above-average skaters. Pitlick is known for being tenacious off-puck and he is little more consistent overall than Hartman but Hartman's "A" game is a bit higher than Pitlick's.

Pitlick should at least be a fourth-line regular under Alain Vigneault next season. He could also compete for the third-line right winger role if the Flyers do not acquire one over the remainder of the offseason.

Below is a transcript of Pitlick's reaction to the trade, courtesy of the Flyers' Zack Hill:

Reaction to the trade.

“I was obviously shocked, initially. But I am excited for the opportunity and looking forward to playing for the Flyers. They have a lot of good players in the organization and I’m looking forward to it.”

What he brings to the table.

“I’m a physical, north skating player. I can score and make plays when I get the chance. I’m going to be physical and I’m going to create energy and compete as hard as I can.”

Who do you know on the team?

“I know Justin Braun a little bit. He’s kind of from where I grew up so that will be good to have a Minnesota connection.”

On speaking with Chuck Fletcher

“I spoke to Chuck briefly on why he likes my style of play but nothing too deep.”
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