Leafs Fans: Every other team has players being cut and their fans get to talk about them, why can’t we have that?
The @MapleLeafs announced today that defencemen Andrew Nielsen and Rasmus Sandin have been loaned to the @TorontoMarles while forward Semyon Der-Arguchintsev has been loaned to Peterborough (OHL).
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) September 26, 2018
These might not be particularly exciting cuts, since all reasonable people knew these three wouldn’t be making the team, but let’s break it down quickly anyway and then all agree to go our separate ways.
He was the youngest player in the entry draft, and despite being an electrifying young player, there was no reason to believe he ever had a chance of making the Leafs. By sending him back after a significant amount of time in his first pro camp he’ll have an opportunity to do some damage with the Petes this season, and push hard for a spot on the Russian World Junior team. We’re already all talking about him, so a big year in junior could have us ready to consider him for bigger things next season and the best way he gets there is by getting a solid amount of time with his junior team. This demotion frees up another contract on the Leafs 50 contract limit, and after the moves today they sit at 46.
It seems harsh to say, but Andrew Nielsen is a disappointment for the Leafs. A solid 2016-17 season with the Marlies is now long removed after a underwhelming season last year and a preseason that really just featured a questionable hit and a fight. Going back to the Marlies early is probably in the best interest for Nielsen who will need the head start just to fight for regular icetime on the deep blueline that has passed him by. He might still be a long term project, but it’s painfully clear why Bobby Cappucino was in such a hurry to trade him. Nielsen is under contract with the Leafs until the end of the 2019-20 season.
This is probably the most noteworthy demotion, entirely because of where Sandin was sent. Rasmus Sandin could have been sent to the OHL, to the Marlies, or sent to Sweden, and for now he’s landed with the Marlies. That’s not to say that’s where he’ll ultimately land, since the defensive depth of the Marlies may deem that he could get more playing time elsewhere, but initially it seems that the Marlies are the best option.
Sandin looked really solid in training camp, and sticking with the Marlies seems like a reasonable expectation. His contract will not count against the Leafs 50 contract limit unless he’s playing for the Leafs.
It seems as if the Leafs are going to stick with the larger group of players until the bitter end. Realistically players like Bracco, Timashov, Engvall, and other waivers exempt players destined for AHL gigs could have made the trip across the hall to the Marlies practice rink, but presumably Mike Babcock sees the value in having the younger group push some of the veterans and/or Dubas has a very specific way he handles roster cuts that doesn’t make for exciting waiver wire theater.