Why Rasmus Sandin decided to end the contract standoff with the Leafs


Rasmus Sandin woke up Thursday morning and decided enough was enough.

Aware that his Maple Leafs teammates were marching to the medical room during training camp and growing weary of a contract stalemate that dragged on longer than he ever imagined, Sandin decided not to press the issue any further. question.

So he and agent Lewis Gross phoned Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and informed him that they would accept the team’s $2.8 million (US) contract offer.

“I learned that Kyle isn’t really a guy who sleeps in. It was quite early in the morning,” Sandin said from Sweden on Thursday.

« That was a great call. I’m just glad I did that. I’m so tired right now that I can’t wait to go to bed and wake up (Friday) and get on the plane.

The negotiations lasted more than three months and clearly weighed on the 22-year-old defender. He called it a « long and difficult summer. »

Sandin arguably ended the stalemate at the point where he held the most influence – with fellow Leafs defensemen Timothy Liljegren (hernia), Jordie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) all injured, and the veteran Jake Muzzin (back) only participating in his first full practice on Thursday.

Consider it a peace offering.

He said he didn’t want to try to use these situations involving teammates for his own gain and recognizes the tight position the organization finds itself in with the salary cap. He also saw October on the calendar and understood the importance of attending camp and some exhibition games.

« I’m still a young man and I can enjoy this time, » Sandin said. “I wanted to be back with the boys. I can’t wait to step into this dressing room and give everyone a big hug.

Sandin is eager to leave after effectively ending last season with a knee injury on March 19. This problem has been behind him for a long time and he has been skating virtually every day this month with a skills coach and Michael Nylander – William’s father and a partner. in the Playmaker Agency which represents him in Sweden – while pointing out the gains from his off-ice work in the gymnasium.

Ask Sandin what the next step in his NHL career looks like and he doesn’t hesitate: “I want to be a guy who plays 82 games. I have to show that I can stay healthy and be a regular contributor to the team.

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He had a career-high 51 games last year, scoring five goals and 16 points.

When the summer started with a dialogue between Leafs management and its agents, he thought the contract situation would be resolved in due course. But progress was hard to come by, especially after Liljegren’s deal in late June set out the terms and conditions he would eventually agree to.

“I kept thinking it would be done next week and next week would pass,” Sandin said. « July became August and then it was September. »

The toughest time came after the Leafs broke camp without him on Sept. 21.

Sandin said he spoke with William Nylander virtually every day after his good friend returned to Toronto and watched the team from afar. Nylander also endured his own long contract stalemate with Leafs management in 2018.

Ultimately, a compromise was struck in the structure of a deal that will pay Sandin a $450,000 signing bonus up front and include a qualifying offer of $1.6 million in 2024-25. The team got a cap number they can accept to start the season while adding a useful player who should be ready for the Oct. 12 opener in Montreal.

As difficult as the negotiations were at times, Sandin never felt like he was in danger of being traded or fighting his way out of town.

He loves playing in a city he calls « essentially the center of the hockey world » and said it’s been an honor to wear the Maple Leaf since being drafted 29th overall by the organization in 2018. .

« There are no hard feelings, » Sandin said. « I started my career in blue and white when I was three years old [with Gimo hockey]. I’m more comfortable in these colors.

« I’m wearing blue and white right now, and I’m also hoping to retire in blue and white. »

Chris Johnston writes about sports for NorthStar Bets. NorthStar Bets is owned by NordStar Capital, which also owns Torstar, Star’s parent company. Follow him on Twitter: @reporterchris


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