Opening night is only a couple of weeks away and the Maple Leafs still have young defenceman Rasmus Sandin unsigned. A first-round pick in 2019, Rasmus finally managed to get regular playing time on the Leafs’ blue line this season. In 51 games, he tallied a respectable 16 points all while improving his defensive game. It’s been rumored that the reason contract negotiations with the pending RFA haven’t been productive is due to the fact that the Leafs possess many capable NHL defensemen, which worries Rasmus since he is unsure whether he’ll get in many games. While the signings of UFA’s Victor Mete and Jordie Benn won’t make him feel any better, I think we can all agree that they aren’t of Sandin’s quality.
Salary Cap Issues
The Maple Leafs are currently $1.4M over the salary cap with a 22-man roster, which for now is perfectly fine as teams are allowed to be 10% over the $82.5M limit during the offseason. That being said, trades will need to happen soon in order to be cap compliant and to accommodate Rasmus Sandin.
This offseason has seen a few young defensemen ink new deals with their respective teams. Adam Boqvist, Mikey Anderson, and fellow Maple Leaf Timothy Liljegren are prime examples of that. In this case, let’s take a look at Adam Boqvist. Boqvist, 26, played one more game than Rasmus Sandin in the 2021-2022 season and his offensive production was very strong, especially if you look at analytics. On the other hand, his defensive game was very weak (-4.4 xDEF in 52 games). On July 6th, Columbus signed him to a 3-year pact with an average annual value of $2.6M. Though I’m not sure Kyle Dubas and company would give Sandin $2.6M on a 1 or 2-year deal, a 3-year contract under $3M for a young defenceman with a high ceiling might be hard to pass on. Personally, I would expect Rasmus’ next contract to be either for 1 or 2 years, with an AAV around Timothy Liljegren’s $1.4M.
Moves to accommodate Sandin
No matter what, the Maple Leafs need to trade someone. Whether it is Alexander Kerfoot or Justin Holl, someone has to go. Additionally, with the likelihood that forward Zach Aston-Reese earns a contract following his PTO in the ballpark of 800-850k according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, salary needs to be dumped. At the end of the day, hopefully the Maple Leafs and Rasmus Sandin manage to agree on a reasonable contract.
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