After losing two more depth defensemen Wednesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally reached an agreement with restricted free agent Rasmus Sandin. The two sides have agreed to a two-year, $2.8M contract ($1.4M AAV) which will pay Sandin $1.2M this season and $1.6M next season.
The team had Alexander Kerfoot and Calle Jarnkrok filling in on defense Wednesday after losing Jordie Benn and Carl Dahlstrom to injury early in the game, making it even more critical to get Sandin signed and in camp as quickly as possible. While the young defenseman has been worried about his place with the organization, there is a massive opportunity in front of him.
Not only did Benn and Dahlstrom go down but Jake Muzzin is dealing with a back issue and Timothy Liljegren is set to miss six weeks with hernia surgery. It is Liljegren that is the comparison for this deal, as he signed the same two-year $2.8M contract earlier this summer. Sandin will get a slightly higher qualifying offer, given the $1.6M salary in 2023-24, but this is basically the contract that was offered to him months ago.
Notably, the team is now quite a bit over the salary cap ceiling but with Liljegren and John Tavares potentially starting the year on long-term injured reserve, there’s a little bit of flexibility. Getting Sandin signed now gives him the best chance for a good start to the season, as he will still have time to get up and running in training camp.
Getting him to sign a two-year deal is even better, as the Maple Leafs will secure another relatively cheap year from the young defender. Filled with promise, Sandin has still only played 88 regular season games in the NHL, including 51 last season. He does have 28 points in those games, and has flashed potential top-four upside, but to this point, very little is proven. He’ll get the chance to do so this season.