Travis Sanheim loves playing alongside Phil Myers, but he understands there is a possibility they will no longer be defensive partners when the Flyers open their season Jan. 13 against Pittsburgh.
For that reason, Sanheim, 24, is keeping an open mind.
“I’m not sure what the game plan is,” Sanheim said in a Webex call with reporters Tuesday. “Obviously we will know more in the next week or so as we get into training camp. Me and Phil work well together. I enjoy playing with him. If we play together, that’s awesome. Hopefully we can continue to grow. If we’re separated and have to work with other guys, I think we’ll both continue to develop and get better and make our partners better as well.
“Either way, it doesn’t matter to me personally,” Sanheim added.
The Flyers need to find someone to play alongside Ivan Provorov on the top pairing. The position became open when Matt Niskanen surprisingly retired shortly after the Flyers were eliminated by the New York Islanders, four games to three, in last season’s conference semifinals.
Myers, who is righthanded (like Niskanen), could move to the top pairing. If that happened, free-agent signee Erik Gustafsson is among the candidates to be with Sanheim on the No. 2 pairing. That will be sorted out during training camp, which begins its on-ice sessions Monday.
“Nisky was a big part of our team last season,” Sanheim said. “Someone who we were going to be leaning on this season. Obviously it sucks that he’s not coming back. It was his decision. I wish him nothing but the best in retirement. That was a big loss for us. Guys have got to step up. There’s a lot of young guys that want to take that step. We’re going to have to do it together. It’s not going to be one guy that takes on his full role because he meant so much to our team. Me, personally, I’m going to try to take that step forward.”
Sanheim is coming off a strong season in which he had eight goals, 25 points and a plus-4 rating while playing in all 69 games. He added seven points (goal, six assists) in 16 postseason games.
“I’m still learning my way,” said Sanheim, who is entering his fourth NHL season. “There are still mistakes that happen out there that I need to clean up, [but] I think I have come a long way. I’ve started to see my game develop and grow into sort of someone that I want to be. Like I said, I’ve still got to take that next step.”
The Flyers beat Montreal in the conference quarterfinals last season before running out of gas and losing to the Islanders, 4-0, in Game 7 of their series.
“A lot of us hadn’t really had a taste” of the playoffs,” Sanheim said. “A few guys got it a few years back when we played Pittsburgh. Me, personally, I didn’t have much. Played a few games against Pittsburgh with limited ice time. This was kind of my first time.”
In the playoffs, “every shift, every detail of every play that you make matters in games like that,” he said. “Just the consistency level that you need for every play, every game. It’s something going into this season that I want to take in and try to add to my game. Just be precise in what I’m doing and work hard to be able to make that right play every night, whether it’s a Monday or we’re in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter. I need to bring it. I think that can lead to more playoff success.”
Flyers prospect Bobby Brink had two goals and was named his team’s player of the game Tuesday as USA walloped the Czech Republic, 7-0, in the World Junior tournament. Defenseman Cam York, drafted by the Flyers in the first round in 2019, contributed three assists. … Flyers prospect Mikhail “Misha” Vorobyev suffered a knee injury in a KHL game in Russia and is expected to miss significant time. Vorobyev, a center who had a strong season with the Phantoms in 2019-20 but struggled when promoted to the Flyers, signed a three-year deal last summer to play in the KHL. The Flyers still own his NHL rights. ... The Flyers will make seven appearances on NBC’s national networks this season, including the 5:30 p.m. opener Jan. 13 against visiting Pittsburgh on the NBC Sports Network.