Maple Leafs Could Move Future Top-4 Star in Big Blue Line Trade

The Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be in the mix when it comes to a number of potential deals ahead of this season’s NHL Trade Deadline. No one is totally sure if the team is prioritizing a forward, a defenseman, or a goaltender, but one thing seems clear, there could be movement on the current roster to add whatever or whomever GM Kyle Dubas has his sights set on.

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That leads to speculation about what players on the active roster might not be with Toronto once the March 3 deadline passes. Among the speculated names, Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, and Wayne Simmonds (Simmonds was placed on waivers Tuesday) are the most likely. But, could a top prospect who the Leafs had hoped would eventually be a staple in their top four be moved?

Speculation is that Rasmus Sandin‘s days in Toronto might be numbered.

Does Moving Sandin Make Sense?

If the Maple Leafs added another defenseman, their left side would get awfully crowded and the player who comes in might be slotted above Sandin in the lineup. Some believe he hasn’t gotten to where the Maple Leafs would have hoped and he’s proven to have trouble with pressure moments. Ultimately, while Sandin has promise, this is a time when the Maple Leafs need steady and they’re a team looking to make a final push with pressure coming from all angles.

Rasmus Sandin Toronto Maple Leafs
Rasmus Sandin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

A patient team might wait to see if Sandin eventually turns into what the Maple Leafs were hoping he would. Even just a few months ago, it was believed that Sandin could become an important piece of the team’s puzzle. The thought would be that it would be foolish to trade him as his numbers early were solid. In 2021-22, Sandin played 864 minutes and registered 1.11 P/60. He is just 22 and teams don’t bail on defensemen who have potential at that age. There were some pretty solid names — Matt Dumba, Drew Doughty, Morgan Rielly, Tyson Barrie, Jakob Chychrun, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Cody Ceci, Justin Faulk, Adam Larsson, John Carlson, and Roman Josi — who had similar numbers at that stage in their development. (courtesy of Evolving-Hockey)

That said, not everything fits. If the Maple Leafs are going to take a swing, they’ll have to make sacrifices.

Would Sandin Be Attractive to Other Teams?

There are plenty of teams that have the luxury of being tolerant, composed, and long-sighted when making deals this season. In many ways, the Maple Leafs do not. As such, moving a piece that other teams would covet is one option that Dubas will have to explore, and again, Sandin’s name comes up.

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Jonas Siegel of The Athletic argues that the writing might be on the wall for Sandin. He writes:

Sandin is the name I’ve been wondering more and more about ahead of the deadline. Is there any chance he ends up moving? … Do they still believe Sandin can one day play in their top four — the same top four as another so-so, left-shooting defender in [Morgan] Rielly?”

source – ‘Timo Meier to the Maple Leafs? Complicated but workable: Monday Morning Leafs Report’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 02/13/2023

Siegel argues that Sandin’s $1.4 million salary cap hit is going to catch attention around the NHL if he’s on the block. He’s locked into that deal for one more season after this one and then he becomes an RFA where any acquiring team will still have contract control. He writes, “That obviously makes him attractive to the Leafs — and to other teams as well.”

If the Maple Leafs are all-in and going after a big fish, something’s gotta give and the team will have to give up something to get something of value back. A lot of eyes have been on Matthew Knies, but if there’s a focus on defense, Sandin’s name might be one to keep tabs on.

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