The 2018 NHL Entry Draft is drawing closer and today we continue our profile series with an intriguing defenseman from Sweden, Rasmus Sandin. This young player made the jump to North America last season and became an important figure for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. Sandin is one of the defenders that I expect the Devils to have on their radar when they select at 17th overall in the 1st round of the draft. This profile will take a look at Sandin’s game and why he may be a good target for the Devils.
Who is Rasmus Sandin?
According to his OHL page, Rasmus Sandin is a 5’11, 190 lbs. defenseman with a left-handed shot. He was born on March 7, 2000 and comes from Uppsala, Sweden. Sandin made his North American debut for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2017-18 after being selected in the 1st round #52 overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft. As we can see from his EliteProspects page, Sandin developed in Sweden for various clubs, starting with his youth team Gimo IF. He spent the 2013-14 season with the MODO Hockey U16 team as well as part of the 2014-15 season with the U16 and J18 MODO Hockey junior teams. That same season he also saw some action with the Almtuna IS U16 and J18 teams in his native Uppsala. He began the 2015-16 season back with MODO’s J18 team, putting up an impressive 22 points in 20 games in J18 Elit action. He then made the move to Brynas IF playing 3 games with their U16 team and 23 total games with their J18 team in the J18 Allsvenskan. It seems the reasoning for this move was to allow him to develop closer to his hometown. The 2016-17 season saw him feature for the Brynas IF J18 and J20 teams, notably putting up 18 points in 36 games in SuperElit action which made him one of the most productive under-17 defenseman in the league.
Not one to shy away from moving clubs, the 2017-18 season would see Sandin make two moves. First, he transferred from Brynas IF to Rogle BK, appearing in 5 SHL games with an assist. Rogle BK loaned Sandin to Sault Ste. Marie this past October and the young defender quickly became a productive member of the OHL’s best regular season team with 12 goals, 33 assists, 24 PIM, and +35 in 51 regular season games. In the playoffs he had a goal, 12 assists, 8 PIM, and +1 in 24 games as they came up short in their championship quest. Sandin earned OHL First All-Rookie Team honors for his performance. Rogle BK still has Sandin under contract for the 2018-19 season.
Sandin also has plenty of international experience on his resume. In his youth he appeared on the Sweden Selects U13 and U15 teams. He played for Sweden’s U16 team in 2015-16 and the following season was captain of their U17 team, winning a Gold Medal at the U17 World Hockey Championship. He started the 2017-18 season with a Bronze Medal for Sweden’s U18 entry at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament where he had 3 assists in 5 games. He figures to continue to play an important role for Sweden’s junior teams going forward.
Where is Rasmus Sandin Ranked?
With Sandin projected to be a first round pick, there are a lot of publicly available rankings for him.
- NHL Central Scouting Services: North America - 11 (Final), North America - 15 (Midterm)
- The Draft Analyst - 13 (Final Top 500), 22 (April, Top 62 at Sporting News), 49 (January Top 500), 40 (Preseason Top 500)
- Future Considerations - 19 (Final)
- McKeen’s Hockey - 23 (Final)
- Hockey Prospect - 30 (Final)
- Craig Button - 15 (Final)
I should note that ISS Hockey didn’t have Sandin in their top 31 so they don’t view him as a 1st round talent. It’s interesting that his NHL CSS ranking hardly changed as they seem to rate the young defender highly. Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst seems to really like the progression in Sandin’s game from January on. It seems most services see Sandin as a mid to late 1st round pick.
What Others Say About Rasmus Sandin
First, Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst has this profile on Sandin. Here are some excerpts from what he wrote on the defender:
Sandin is a nimble puck-moving defenseman with outstanding agility and closing speed. He is a reliable option for breakouts since he can beat back a forecheck with either his wheels or crisp, timely passes...In fact, the young rearguard did not take long to distinguish himself among the Soo’s talent-heavy blue line, and by season’s end was playing big minutes and quarterbacking the top power-play unit.
You can make a strong case that he is one of the draft’s best one-on-one defenders, and his quick feet help stay stride for stride with onrushing attackers. Sandin also is reliable in slot coverage and rarely is guilty of puck-gazing his partner into a precarious situation. He has soft hands, keen vision and a developing creative gene that when combined puts him in an elite class of teenage two-way defenders, and he could very well become one of the best players to come out of this draft.
There is a lot to like about Sandin’s game there. It is imperative that defenders in today’s game are mobile and able to move the puck out of the zone with possession. I’m really encouraged to read that Kournianos rates Sandin as one of the best 1v1 defenders in this class. With traits like these, it’s no wonder he quickly rose up the Soo line up and became a key contributor at even strength in both ends of the ice, as well as on the power play.
Next, let’s turn our attention to what Brock Otten of OHL Prospects has to say about Sandin. He ranked Sandin 7th in his Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. Here is some of what Otten wrote:
He’s fantastic with the puck in his own end and rarely seems to make a mental mistake with the puck. Always makes that safe play and starts the breakout with a stretch pass as well as anyone in this draft (including Bouchard). His hockey sense is just terrific. Has a good, low point shot and is very good at picking his spots to jump up into the rush.
But I like his positioning and ability to stay ahead of attackers on the rush. He uses his body and strong lower half to box out forecheckers extremely well and as such, he prevents teams from gaining and extending possession in the Hounds zone. For me the only real drawback is a lack of dynamic skating ability. Sandin is far from a poor skater. He’s mobile, especially laterally. But I don’t think he possesses the elite separation that you’d like to see from a 5’11 defender who’s primary skill is puck movement.
But I see Sandin as, potentially, a very serviceable second pairing defender who can play in all situations and have a long time NHL career.
Once again we read more praise for Sandin’s ability to break the puck out of his own zone and make the right play on a consistent basis. Sandin also earns more praise for his ability to defend due to his smart positioning and understanding of the game. It seems his lack of explosive skating could hinder his production at the next level, but overall you get the sense he could develop into a two-way, reliable second pair defender like Otten suggests. I would also recommend checking out Otten’s Midseason Media/Scout Poll for 2018 for even more perspectives on Sandin’s game.
Finally, let’s read some of what Ben Kerr of Last Word on Hockey had to say about Sandin in this scouting report:
He is a better backwards skater than forward (comparative to his opposition of course), which is obviously a good tool for a defender. With good cross-overs and agility, he is able to retreat quickly and keep the play in front of him.
He is poised with the puck on his stick and makes smart plays. Sandin has great vision and the ability to thread the needle to the open man with good passing skills. He can make the long stretch pass to create a breakaway or odd-man rush when it is available...Sandin is much more likely to use a wrist shot or snapshot than he is to load up for a slap shot, even from the point. He likes to sneak down to the circles, get the puck and unload a quick shot without giving the goalie time to set up.
He is a physical player, willing to throw hits on the rush, battle in the corners, and clear the front of the net...Sandin maintains good gap control and funnels attackers to the outside. He anticipates plays well and cuts down passing and shooting lanes.
A lot of this backs up what others have said about Sandin. He may not have blazing speed but he’s able to utilize his skating and positioning to stop attackers. He pass the puck well and knows how to use his shot to his advantage. Defensively, he is a sound player despite his slightly smaller frame for a defender.
A Little Video
The first video we have is a highlights package of Sandin’s 2017-18 season by YouTube user Hockey Prospects Center. In this video you see his offensive instincts on full display whether it’s him jumping into the rush, finding his teammates with crisp passes, or getting into dangerous areas to utilize his shot.
The next video we have comes from YouTube user HSD Prospects. It’s another 2017-18 highlights package and it’s another opportunity to see what Sandin can bring to a team from that end of the rink.
An Opinion of Sorts
I think Sandin has a desireable skill-set for a defenseman on his way to the NHL. He’s not overwhelmed defending against the rush, utilizing his mobility to ward off attacks and keeps himself in good position to limit options for the opposition. Sandin is an asset in transition, whether it’s breaking the puck out of his zone or joining the rush up the ice to create havoc for the other team. While not an explosive skater, he is confident when handling the puck and moving it up ice himself, edging his way past the opposition. I really like his passing game and the way he’s able to read the play and know where to find his teammates in dangerous spots. He doesn’t have the best shot but does well to get himself into spots on the ice where he can maximize his scoring chances. He’s even open to playing physical despite his somewhat slight frame and knows how to clear out the front of the net.
I do have some concerns when it comes to Sandin. First, while I think he could likely turn into a really solid defender on the second pair, I worry about using a mid-first round pick on someone with limited upside. Sandin may be a safer, more conservative pick, but you could be passing up a defender with higher upside at that spot like a Ty Smith, K’Andre Miller, or Bode Wilde depending on how you view those prospects. Perhaps there may even be some forwards on the board at that spot with offensive upside that would be worth taking a shot on over Sandin. Next, I do worry about his slight frame at the NHL level. How will he defend against players that are bigger and stronger than those in the junior ranks? Sandin doesn’t mind a physical game but how will his body hold up over a long season against this competition?
With all that said, I view Sandin as more of a late 1st round prospect, probably in the 20-31 range. I like him a lot as a prospect and wouldn’t complain if Shero took him when the Devils pick. I think it would absolutely be a defensible decision. What it comes down to me is that I like the upside of some of the other prospects that figure to be around when the Devils pick. The future is definitely bright for Sandin and I look forward to seeing how he develops.
What are your thoughts on Rasmus Sandin as a prospect? Would you be in favor of seeing the Devils select him with their 1st round pick? Are there any parts of his game that stand out to you in a positive or negative way? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!