We’re now into our top five prospects in the Leafs’ system, and we have a brand new face vaulting up the list. Rasmus Sandin, Toronto’s pick from the first round of this summer’s draft, is our #4 ranked prospect.
Sandin might have been the most telegraphed draft pick possible after the Leafs named Kyle Dubas general manager earlier in the spring. With the the 25th selection in hand, Toronto traded down, then took Sandin at 29th overall from the Soo Greyhounds. As far as pre-draft predictions go, that type of scenario unfolding seemed almost a sure thing. We hit Kyle Dubas Bingo.
But Sandin isn’t just a name hire due to his time with Dubas’ old team. He’s got a boatload of skill, the numbers to boot, and was always slated to go in the first round by most scouting outlets – some being as bold as to declare him the second-best blueliner in the entire class. Originally from Sweden, Sandin played his first and what will likely be his only season in the OHL this past year. The 18-year old is most likely set to head back overseas to suit up for Rogle of the SHL for this upcoming season, though the Marlies are still an option.
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Don’t worry, we’ve already fired Hobart for that absurd ranking.
(Image via EliteProspects)
2017-18 Season Recap
As far as on-ice production goes, Sandin was an impressive third among draft-eligible OHL defencemen in points-per-game, just behind Guelph’s Ryan Merkley and Evan Bouchard of London (both of who went ahead of him in the NHL draft).
Scouting reports from this past season were definitely kind to Sandin, as David St-Louis of Eyes on the Prize noted: “He is a very effective puck-mover who doesn’t forfeit an inch on defence. He has great four-way mobility that he uses to jump out of his pivots to poke the puck away from forwards trying to go around him off the rush. He also can impose himself physically in one-on-one coverage, and that despite his stature at 5’11”. He positions himself well, which enables him to cut passes and neutralize his man in defensive coverage.” Sandin is literally out here playing 4D chess. But seriously, we know he’s been described by plenty as one of the most complete players in the draft, and someone who progressed as last season went on to the point of being a true force for a loaded Greyhounds team in the playoffs.
As Seen on TV
Rasmus Sandin has a pair of secondary assists in Rogle's preseason game tonight. He's number 22 pic.twitter.com/32hJen1Wwr
— DusterDownUnder (@DusterDown) August 16, 2018
Sandin isn’t a big defender, but his strong two-way game gives him OHL statistical comparisons to players like Jakob Chychrun, Vince Dunn, and the Leafs’ own Travis Dermott in their draft years. Those players are still young, but those comparisons would project him to a very solid 2nd-pairing guy.
Some context to my love for Rasmus Sandin, here are some pretty good comparables. pic.twitter.com/kDo11mbrZk
— Tobias Pettersson (@ManUtdTobbe) March 11, 2018
For the 2018-19 season, it appears Sandin will head back to the SHL to suit up for Rogle, who originally loaned him to the Hounds last season.
When you look at Sandin through the lens of his potential comparables and the way his game is described, it seems his career in the pros, should he make it there, will be as a proper second-pairing defenceman who can play all situations and is certainly no liability on either side of the puck. It seemed he was pinned by some as a bit of a safe pick at draft time, but I don’t really see it. The big boom-or-bust option of Merkley was off the board by the time the Leafs stepped to the stage, and the closer looks at Sandin’s production indicate he’s got a decently high ceiling of his own, even if he is often considered an “well-rounded” player. Developing a few of those types, like the Dermotts and Dunns, won’t be a bad thing for a team that’s going to be quite top-heavy for the next near-decade.
This upcoming season he’s set to make a jump competition-wise, playing against grown men through either the Swedish league or the AHL. For that reason, we’ll expect his production and usage to take a substantial hit, but if he’s on this side of the pond at least we’ll be able to see more of his talent on display, much like with Liljegren last year, One thing Sandin has in his pocket is that he’s already adapted to smaller ice, whereas Liljegren specifically pointed to that adjustment taking a while last season. Perhaps we’ll even get a punch of those two Swedes for the Marlies, which will be a lot of fun and give a glimpse of what the middle portion of the Leafs’ blueline could be in 2-3 years.