Rasmus Sandin has been the best draft pick for the Toronto Maple Leafs since the team drafted Auston Matthews in 2016. Sandin has excelled at every level of hockey he’s played at. This includes the OHL, WJC, AHL and now the NHL. He and Timothy Liljegren, when both healthy, combine for the best third pair in the NHL. Sandin has also shown the ability to play on the top defence pairing with T.J. Brodie when Morgan Rielly is out and has been a key piece of the power-play units. Rasmus Sandin has a ton of value, and it would be in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ best interest to sign him now.
Toronto Maple Leafs Must Sign Rasmus Sandin Soon
Rasmus Sandin currently ranks 6th in the NHL in xGF/60 among all defencemen with 3.71. However, his on-ice shooting percentage is among the bottom third in the league. This combination of things is just a recipe for a player like Sandin to really break out.
This discrepancy between xGF and GF can be best demonstrated visually through Evolving-Hockey‘s RAPM charts (please note the y-axis had to be increased from three standard deviations to five to properly show Sandin’s xGF). This shows that there is more to come from Sandin. This lack of results is not going to sustain at 5v5.
Why a Deal Needs to be Made Now
Traditionally, the most influential factors that go into the term of a contract and the value are things like time on ice, goals, primary assists, among others. Sandin is currently sitting at 187 of 262 defencemen in terms of average TOI this season. He also only holds one goal and ten primary assists over his career. This should mean he doesn’t have a lot to leverage for a large contract. However, he does have the underlying numbers to justify signing him to a longer deal to keep him cost-controlled.
If the Leafs don’t sign him soon, this only gives Sandin the opportunity for these numbers that are valued in contract negotiation to increase. Another defenceman could get injured and that could result in an opportunity for Sandin to get more ice time. Sandin’s on-ice shooting percentage could go up to where it probably should be and that could result in more points for Sandin. The sooner the Leafs are lock Sandin down, the better.
Potential Contract Structure
Ideally the Leafs sign Sandin long-term. That isn’t always possible for a team like the Leafs, however. When they’re competing and against the cap, sometimes the team has to sign good young players to shorter deals. This is in order to keep the cap hit lower while the team is competitive.
If the Leafs do, however, look to sign Sandin for a longer-term, they could look at how Sam Girard’s deal is structured. Girard was given a little more at the time than he was maybe worth, but looking at Girard’s zone entry and exits, as well as his shot contributions, suggested he was going to be a good player. The Avalanche were able to lock up a fantastic young defenceman long term before he truly emerged. Similarly, Jaccob Slavin was signed to a similar deal before it was recognized how great of a defenceman he is. Sandin is a very different style of defenceman to these two. However,t can be argued Sandin’s in a similar situation as them (perhaps with less leverage than Girard and Slavin).
If the Leafs go a shorter-term route, then there are a lot of players to base the structure of his deal around. Ryan Pulock‘s second contract could act as a comparable, Dante Fabbro‘s recent contract could act as an indicator. Any number of two to three-year contracts for young defencemen are around the same price point. The Leafs, should, however, sign Sandin sooner rather than later. It can only benefit them.
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