In wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic that has victimized the world, the NHL has gone stagnant during its pause to resume play. All teams remain on standby as they await their return to the ice just in time for the playoff push. Despite the level of uncertainty of continuing the season or not, the Philadelphia Flyers managed to make use of the downtime by signing Swedish standout forward Linus Sandin to a one-year, entry-level contract. Practically an unknown in North America, it begs the question: who is Linus Sandin?
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Born and raised in Uppsala, Sweden, Sandin grew up playing for his native land and hasn’t looked back as his play has officially turned some heads. According to experts, he has become a rising star in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) as the nation’s top international player in the world. The coveted 24-year-old has gained traction as of late, intriguing several NHL teams to consider taking a chance on him. The Flyers were one of those teams who quickly emerged as the front runner to land the talented right winger. The two sides agreed to a one-year deal back on April 29 that will go into effect for the 2020-21 season.
In order to land the Swedish stud, the Flyers first had to wait until the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) extended the transfer agreement that allows teams to sign players abroad within a specific time frame. The two parties finalized the agreement back on April 25, permitting the Flyers and Sandin to do business.
His most notable years were the past few when he made the leap from Junior-20 SuperElit League to the SHL as member of Rögle BK back in 2017 where he played for two seasons. The acclimation process was evident for Sandin as he struggled to find his footing in the tough and rugged Swedish league. However, he quickly resurged this past year playing for HV71, posting career numbers and finishing second on the team in points (19 goals and 17 assists) through 51 games.
Bringing a Swedish Punch
The scouting report on Sandin exhibits relentless puck pursuit and possesses no fear crashing the net to cash in on second or third-chance goals. His competitiveness is an intangible trait that most teams or coaches can’t teach, and the big-bodied righty demonstrates that. Speaking of big, Sandin’s 6-foot-1, 209-pound frame is enough to shrug off an opponent while in the trenches.
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Based on film, he also seems to be relied on late in close games, being seen on the ice in the waning minutes. The overall assessment of the forward gives the impression that his game could translate well in the NHL as a bottom-six player who plays hard and gets on the board in crucial moments.
Sandin had previously been invited to the Boston Bruins’ developmental camp last summer, but the team elected to move on without offering him a contract. Nevertheless, he was given a taste of what a pro camp entails.
What may seem odd about the signing is the duration of the contract only lasting one year. It could be considered a tryout for the promising Swede as he enters the prime of his career. After being overlooked in last year’s NHL draft, Sandin is out to prove to the league — and the world — that scouts and execs made a mistake passing on him.
The undrafted talent has a chance to showcase what North America has been missing all this time. Both the Flyers and Sandin win on this deal because it enables the club to get the most out of the player. Usually, that added motivation drives a player to elevate their game that exceeds any expectations set out for them. Flyers fans are rooting for that outcome.
While the addition of Sandin shores up a depth roll, the question is where he’ll fit and who he will play with. The Flyers have an embarrassment of riches when it to comes to their utility guys going down the lineup like forwards Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick and Michael Raffl just to name a few. All players with similar styles, chemistry on and off the ice is a prime component to a team’s success as well. Another indication of the signing — Flyers’ general manager Chuck Fletcher may stand pat in this year’s upcoming draft without moving up or back for their selections. Sandin can make an immediate impact instead waiting through a development stage.
The fact that Sandin chose Philly as his adopted home for his NHL debut means that he sees great potential in the Flyers. Due to a new look and new attitude about them, the orange and black have accelerated expectations and are ready to contend now. Adding a player with legitimate pro experience overseas and an element of unknown about his game makes it more difficult for the opposition to key in on his tendencies. Expect to see Sandin bring some Swedish flavor to the City of Brotherly Love.