Toronto Maple Leafs: Ramus Sandin’s frustration is understandable

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin (38) skates during warmup. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin (38) skates during warmup. (Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports) /

No player on the Toronto Maple Leafs who has been dealt a tougher hand this season than Rasmus Sandin.

The defenceman would have been playing prime minutes in the AHL but with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the league’s season, the Leafs have had no choice but to keep the young defenceman on the taxi squad. On top of that, the addition of Mikko Lehtonen has taken away playing time as Sheldon Keefe believes he is ahead of Sandin.

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Right now, there is no telling when the AHL will let the Canadian teams play which means many prospects like Sandin are left sidelined. At this rate, it seems like an injury would be his path to getting some game action.

It’s hard to not feel sorry for Sandin considering he hasn’t been able to play in a game since the NHL initially paused it’s season around 11 month ago. You also have to credit him for remaining patient despite the tough circumstances.

"“The only thing I can do right now is just practise as good as I can and as hard as I can, just to stay in shape and be ready for the opportunity when it comes,” Sandin told reporters. “I’m getting a lot of opportunity in the gym, and getting stronger too. I feel like my skills have gotten better and my shot as well [is better]. I just look at it as something [good] to try to bring out on the ice when I get a chance.”"

Being able to work with skills coaches and train at the Leafs facility is at least better than having Sandin sitting around not being able to do anything. It also seems like Keefe isn’t interested in getting Sandin into a game just for the sake of having him play.

The best opportunity the Leafs had to get the 20-year-old in the lineup came when the team went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Instead, Keefe opted to go with Lehtonen and Travis Dermott but that seemed like a missed opportunity.

Toronto Maple Leafs need to be mindful of Rasmus Sandin’s future development

When it comes to Sandin, it does feel like the wrong impression is being given considering he has played in the NHL and wouldn’t be playing top-four minutes.

Also, the last thing the Leafs would want is to find themselves in a similar situation as last season when they were without Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin and were forced to play Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. These players need to see game action because nothing can substitute that.

At some point, a tough conversation between the Leafs skills development coaches, Kyle Dubas and Keefe needs to happen because the group needs to decide what the best plan of action is. You have to think the front office expected the AHL to be a possiblity for Sandin but if that continues to be delayed, you wonder if that leads to the young Swede getting into the lineup?

It’s not a situation the Leafs expected to be in but they will have to adapt and realize what the best course of action is for Sandin and it’s definitely going to be magnified the longer he stays parked on the taxi squad.

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What do you think about  the tough situation Sandin finds himself in? Should the Leafs try to get him into a game? Let us know in the comments below.