When Playoffs Start the Toronto Maple Leafs Must Play Rasmus Sandin

Toronto Maple Leafs - Rasmus Sandin (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Rasmus Sandin (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs look to be mostly healthy when the NHL season eventually resumes.

Though there is some doubt about Andreas Johnsson, the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs should be good-to-go come playoff time.

As everyone who follows the team is no doubt well aware, the Leafs didn’t dress their optimal lineup for even a single game this year, and were completely sandbagged by injuries.

Some of the injuries, however, did come with a silver lining in the form of allowing Rasmus Sandin to get into some games.

He did not disappoint.

And he has to play when games resume.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Rasmus Sandin

Drafted 29th overall in 2019, Sandin has far surpassed his draft position and looks poised to be the a foundational player on the Toronto Maple Leafs for years to come.

Sandin played 28 games for the Leafs this year, with 22 of them coming after Mike Babcock was fired.

In those 22 games, Sandin looked much worse than he actually was due to the terrible goaltending the Leafs got when he was on the ice – .870%  which cannot be explained away even by the rookies inexperience or lack of polish.

Sandin put up a very solid 54% CF, as well as a respectable one goal and seven assists in 28 games.  (Stats naturalastattrick.com).

Unfortunately, he was paired for most of the time with either Tyson Barrie or Cody Ceci, who are not exactly the best players to pair a rookie with, given their obvious defensive issues.

Though you’d think it would be automatic, there is some question as to whether the Leafs will play Sandin in the playoffs.

A fully healthy Leafs team is pretty obviously going to dress Rielly, Muzzin, Holl and Barrie.

Then you can all but assume that Travis Dermott is in the lineup,

That means that the coaches would have to choose between playing Rasmus Sandin or Cody Ceci (with Rosen and Marincin not really being serious options).

Cody Ceci is right handed, he kills penalties and is an experienced NHL player.  I think the odds that the Leafs choose to go with him are pretty high.

I think that would be a mistake.

There is no doubt that Ceci played better once Keefe took over and ended the extremely stupid attempt of Mike Babcock to make him into a top pairing player.

Still, I think that the sheer talent and ability of Sandin should be a bigger factor than Ceci’s handedness or experience. The Leafs are going to have to get Dermott or Sandin to the right side eventually, so I say do it now.

The fact is, a player like Ceci has basically no impact on games anyways.  He’s mediocre and interchangable with 90% of NHL defensemen.  But Sandin has that elite level talent, and he could (though no guarantees) make a difference.

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Sandin could be a wild card.  He could be the player who uses the playoffs to rocket himself up the lineup. The Toronto Maple Leafs need to play him.