While Rasmus Sandin has looked impressive during pre-season hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs shouldn’t be in any rush to get him to the NHL.
Whether or not Rasmus Sandin will be in the mix when final roster cuts are made remains to be seen but there is a growing sense suggesting he should get serious consideration. He has certainly turned some heads with his confident play during pre-season but you know the team isn’t going to just hand the rookie a spot over a couple of exhibition games.
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This is not to say the Leafs shouldn’t give him a spot if he deserves it but they should proceed with caution considering most teams want their young defenceman to get some seasoning in the AHL.
The 19-year-old did play 44 regular-season games and 13 playoff games with the Toronto Marlies. However, many believe that the young Swede could benefit from playing another season in the minors.
Now what could help Sandin is the fact that Dermott is expected to miss at least a month of the season with a shoulder injury so there is a spot on the left side that is unoccupied. Many would rather see the Leafs give Sandin a chance to show what he can do over Ben Harpur or Martin Marincin and it’s tough to argue against that idea.
In situations like this, teams have to be very cautious because Leafs fans know first hand what can happen to a defenceman if he is rushed to play in the NHL before he is truly ready. Most teams will give the nod to the younger player but some also find out the hard way what can happen if a player is rushed.
If Dermott was expected to miss fewer than 10 games, the decision to have Sandin play in his spot would make more sense because there is less of a chance of burning a year off his entry-level contract.
Considering the lack of commitment to defencemen after this season, the Leafs need to navigate the contracts of Sandin and Timothy Liljegren to provide some relief on the salary cap as cheap but dependable options.
Head coach Mike Babcock seems to like the style of play Sandin provides so that will go a long way in not only his chances to make the team but give him the confidence in knowing that he is doing what is expected of him.
"“To me, he’s just smart and simple. He knows how to play and he just seems comfortable all the time,” Babcock told reporters. “It doesn’t seem to matter what level he’s at.”"
It also doesn’t hurt to know that if injuries become a problem like last season, the Leafs have more capable options to be called up.
What are your thoughts on Sandin’s play during the pre-season? Should he an option to start the season with the Leafs or get more seasoning in the AHL? Let us know in the comments below.