After starting the season in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rasmus Sandin returned on Sunday to the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Sandin joined the Marlies after spending the first six games of the NHL season with the Leafs in Toronto. In those six games, Sandin recorded two assists and is looking at the positives, taking what he learned in the NHL down with him to the AHL. He made his AHL season debut on Wednesday night against the Hershey Bears and he did not look out of place one bit.
Sandin was welcomed back to the Marlies lineup with open arms as he was immediately named to the team’s starting lineup. He was put on the first defensive pairing alongside fellow first-round draft pick Timothy Liljegren. In his first period back in the AHL, Sandin fit back in perfectly. Sometimes players need a game or two to get back into the swing of things after moving teams or switching leagues, but Sandin looked right at home.
Right off the bat, Rasmus Sandin was one of the more notable players on the Marlies. It wasn’t because he was using a ton of fancy stick work that made him so noticeable. It was because of his stable game altogether.
Sandin was quick to join the offence whether it meant creating plays in the offensive zone or getting in position to take a shot. Sandin had one of the first big chances of the game with a shot that was saved by Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek. The shot came from the right face-off circle and had the crowd on their feet.
Throughout the period, Sandin was always in the right position to receive passes and pass the puck to create scoring chances. He made multiple strong passes in the first half of the period that successfully reached the sticks of his target. The Hershey Bears had multiple scoring chances throughout the first period, but one of their best came while Sandin was on the ice.
Liam O’Brien successfully maneuvered the puck around one Marlies player, but before he could toe-drag the puck past another, Sandin dove on the ice and reached his stick out to get the puck off O’Brien’s stick to stop the scoring opportunity.
The Marlies relied on Rasmus Sandin in all areas throughout the first period, including on the power play and on the penalty kill as well. It was here where Sandin got his first point of the season to pick things up right where he left off last season. Sandin was essentially the quarterback of the Marlies power play when he was on the ice.
He was starting or was involved in almost every chance created on the power play and got passes off his stick quickly to find open teammates. To put the Marlies up by two in the first period, Sandin got the puck off of his stick quickly to find an open Jeremy Bracco who put the puck on net in which Egor Korshkov buried it in the back of the net.
In the second period, Sandin’s offensive play was not put on display as much as it was in the first period. The second period saw the former first-round pick display more of his defensive style of play rather than his two-way game. While Sandin was on the ice, the puck spent a lot of time in the Marlies’ own zone, however, Sandin was aggressive in his attempts to get the puck away from the opposition.
He was strong physically on the boards when battling for pucks and even when things did not go his way, he was quick to get back and follow the puck. His positioning was put on display as he was ready to receive a pass or cover opposing forwards when entering his team’s zone.
During the second period, the Hershey Bears scored one goal which Sandin happened to be on the ice for. Bears forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby entered the Marlies zone on a breakaway, covered by Jordan Schmaltz. Sandin was on the opposite of the ice as Schmaltz and rushed as fast as he could to try and prevent the goal, but failed to stop the Bears forward.
While on the power play, Sandin was seen receiving the puck after it was dumped by the Bears on multiple occasions. He passed the puck up to try and get an offensive opportunity on the power play for his team. Although he had multiple opportunities to shoot the puck, Sandin chose to pass the puck on the power play to create a nice play rather than shoot the puck for himself.
Although he made some nice passes and was quick to get the puck off of his stick and get it to an open man, Sandin had multiple shooting opportunities in which he had an open lane for a shot. Although he was reluctant to shoot the puck, his decision making and playmaking abilities were put on full display during the Marlies power play.
The Marlies started off the period down a man, but less then a minute in, they found themselves fending off a five-on-three penalty. Sandin was relied on by the Marlies on the penalty kill and looked solid in his role. He was ultimately a big reason why the Marlies were able to kill off the five-on-three penalty and keep the game in their hands.
Throughout the period, Sandin played more of a defensive role than he did throughout the second period. He made some solid clearing attempts that helped stop some dangerous offensive threats from Hershey. The Swedish defender did a good job following the play, whether it was in the Hershey Bears zone or his own team’s zone.
Throughout the entire game, Sandin was great on the power play and the third period was no different. While on the power play in the last few minutes, Sandin was constantly seen with the puck at his stick, working to kill time off the clock. He made some key passes to create chances for his team, but also tried not to put his team in a situation that could result in turning over the puck.
Although he was successful in doing so, for the most part, his attempts did result in one bad turnover that almost resulted in a goal as the Bears forward outpaced Sandin. Marlies goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo was able to get to the puck before the Bears could, but did a poor job clearing the puck as the Bears were able to block Kaskisuo’s clearing attempt. Luckily for Sandin and Kaskisuo, they were able to get back to the net in time to stop the Bears from tying the game.
After all was said and done, Rasmus Sandin had himself quite a good performance in his season debut in the AHL. He clearly learned a lot during his short stint with the Leafs and is eager to make an impression with the Marlies and prove that he is ready to play in the NHL full time. Sandin was used in all situations by the Marlies coaching staff and was reliable in whichever situation he was placed in.
His abilities were best displayed on the power play as he was able to best utilize his playmaking abilities to create countless chances for his team. This saw him record an assist in the first period of the game. After the first period of play, Sandin’s defensive game was truly put on display.
He was aggressive in his own zone and was quite physical along the boards as well. Sandin rarely made any mistakes during the game and when he did, he was quick to try and do whatever he could to fix them. Although it was only his first game since returning upon his demotion, if Rasmus Sandin keeps playing as he did against the Hershey Bears, he may not be playing many more games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.