Toronto Maple Leafs: Keeping Rasmus Sandin in the AHL Is Criminal

HERSHEY, PA - MARCH 15: Toronto Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin (8) watches the puck during the Toronto Marlies vs. the Hershey Bears AHL hockey game March 15, 2019 at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
HERSHEY, PA - MARCH 15: Toronto Marlies defenseman Rasmus Sandin (8) watches the puck during the Toronto Marlies vs. the Hershey Bears AHL hockey game March 15, 2019 at the Giant Center in Hershey, PA. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Toronto Maple Leafs blue-line is a lot better than it gets credit for.

I talk to Toronto Maple Leafs fans every day, and one thing they always say to me is that the team should trade for a defenseman.

I don’t think they should.

I feel like people would like the Leafs to have a big, bruising presence on the blue line in the vein of Shea Weber or Zdeno Chara, and I agree.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Unfortunately, players like that barely exist.  Big, bruising, maniacs who can score, move the puck, and terrify the opposition are the rarest thing in the NHL.

Both Chara and Weber are going to the Hall of Fame.  You can’t just get guys like that.

Then again, they come close to having 30 years of NHL experience between them, and they’ve got one Stanley Cup, so it’s not like you have to have one in order to win.

They’re a pretty sweet luxury, but one you can do without.

Toronto Maple Leafs Blue Line

The Toronto Maple Leafs would be happy to take on the mythical Hall of Fame defender, but short of that, how much help do they really need?

I’d argue none.

Morgan Rielly is an elite, top-five NHL defenseman.

Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie easily make the top 15 or 20.

Travis Dermott isn’t far off.

So that’s a top four that compete with anyone in the NHL. It’s not just “very good” it’s fantastic.

All four players can move the puck.  Rielly and Barrie are elite offensively.  Muzzin is perhaps the most well-rounded defenseman there is.  Dermott does so many little things right that he’s well on his way to be Muzzinesque.

As for the last two spots, one should go to Justin Holl, and the other to Rasmus Sandin.

Justin Holl has broken out in a big way in the last few weeks.  Solid, dependable, sneakily good.  That describes Holl.

He has a 55% possession rating, 55% of the shot share, and nearly 58% of the scoring chances when he’s on the ice.  (Naturalstattrick.com).

He is crushing it.  It’s all you can ask for a third pairing defenseman.  Personally, I’d much rather see him partnered with Rielly, but I think that job will go to Dermott sooner than later.

As for Rasmus Sandin, the kid is too good for the AHL, and I absolutely loathe the reasoning for keeping him there.

NHL experience cannot be replicated.  If you’re the best defenseman in the AHL – which he is – then you need to be in the NHL.  Full stop.  No questions.

The Leafs use Ceci on the PK so they sure as heck could use Sandin.  With Rielly and Barrie, he’s not getting on the power-play, but who cares?

If you have a third pairing you can trust, you can play them a lot more than normal and rest your best players for when it counts.

The idea that Sandin can’t mix in with other players, play some garbage time, or spell out Rielly and Muzzin occasionally in order to get his minutes to where they need to be to justify his NHL role is ridiculous – it would be so easy.

There is no reason to have Sandin in the AHL, especially when the Leafs are contenders and need to be icing their best lineup.

No matter what you think about Sandin being recalled, the Leafs best lineup includes Sandin, so he needs to be in the NHL.

Demoting a player who was your 4th best defenseman is a bad look. Artificially keeping players in the AHL to avoid starting their contracts will only cost you in the long run because players won’t like management for pulling that crap.

Rasmus Sandin is CLEARLY an NHL Player, and it borders on criminal to play him in the AHL.

Call him up, and do it now.

Clear cap space by getting rid of Ceci, and use that money to maintain flexibility or possibly add to the team.  But not to the defense, it’s set.

Ovechkin Is the Worst. dark. Next

Rielly-Dermott

Muzzin – Barrie

Sandin – Holl

It is either the best blue line in the NHL, or it’s damn close.  The Toronto Maple Leafs need to make this happen.