Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Position: Left Defense
Age on Draft Day: 18.30 Years Old
Height/Weight: 5’11, 186 pounds
2017-2018 Stats (Including Playoffs): 75 GP, 13 G, 45 A, 37 PIM, +36
NHL Central Scouting: 11th (European Skaters)
Craig Button (TSN): 15th
Future Considerations: 19th
Canucks Army: 30th
Scott Wheeler: 39th
ISS Hockey: (Not Top-31)
If you came here thinking you were about to read about projected first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, then please head here. Rasmus Sandin is also a Swedish defenseman, and he checks in on our list at 23.
The Rangers have recent history with the Soo Greyhounds. Brandon Halverson, their second-round pick in 2014, played for them. Tim Gettinger, taken in 2016, played with the Soo this past season. And just a few months ago Jeff Gorton’s son, Jack, was selected by the Greyhounds in the 2018 OHL Draft. Does that in itself mean the Rangers will, or should, covet Sandin? Obviously not. Familiarity with a successful organization certainly doesn’t hurt the cause, though.
The words “steady” and “reliable” are often poorly applied to defensemen who are slow, clumsy, and limited in ability. Instead, Sandin accurately fits those descriptions for what it means to be a modern NHL defenseman. Though he isn’t flashy, he’s a solid two-way blue-liner.
Sandin is one of the best defensemen in the draft at defending the rush. That’s particularly impressive given that he isn’t a superlative skater. Instead, he spaces his gaps very well and picks the right moments to close down. He’ll both get sticks on pucks to disrupt the rush or use his body to separate the puck from the carrier. Here are just a handful of numerous examples I saw in various games.
I also look at a different play as an example of his thoughtfulness and execution.
With the Greyhounds coming off of a line change and Hamilton entering the zone on an odd-man rush, there is potential for confusion and a breakdown. Sandin does a great job of directing the coverages on the play and then tying up his man.
Though Sandin is 5’11, he is a robust 183 pounds, and has no problem engaging in battles. He’s not the kind of player who will make highlight reels with big hits, but in terms of taking the puck off the opposing player’s stick, he’ll do whatever it takes.
The numbers back (some of) my observations about Sandin’s defensive ability. Mitch Brown of The Athletic tracked eight of Sandin’s games and found that he was in the 98th percentile among players tracked in terms of breaking up zone entries.
Offensively, Sandin is pragmatic. He’s not particularly skillful, but he has good vision. He has a hard wrist shot that can beat goaltenders or generate rebounds. Unfortunately, his skating is merely average. He doesn’t have great high-end speed nor an impactful initial push. His carries up the ice are methodical, though not quick. However, working within a team-wide transition, he’s fast enough to get to where he needs to be. Here it is in action.
Twelve goals and and 33 assists in 45 regular season games is really good production for an OHL defenseman. For the most part, I think it is legitimate. Yes, he strongly benefitted from playing with one of the best CHL teams in recent memory. He also benefitted from Avalanche 2017 first-round pick Conor Timmins taking on a heavy defensive workload. However, I am encouraged by his even-strength scoring. Though he ranked ninth among OHL defensemen in points-per-game (minimum 20 games), he ranked sixth when isolating for five-on-five production. He experienced massive drop in production during the OHL playoffs, but I believe that was largely due to fatigue.
As I have said before, I generally dislike player comparisons because they can create ridiculous expectations and are often very lazy in nature. That being said, I see a lot of stylistic similarities between Sandin and Anton Stralman. Neither have standout physical attributes; sufficient skating ability, vision, and strong though undersized. However, they both think the game at a level that exceeds what their tools might suggest.
Sandin has a strong sense for how to position himself in the neutral zone to prevent zone entries, and inside the defensive zone he battles and rarely misses an assignment. He knows what to do with the puck in the neutral zone, can join the rush when it’s available to him, and makes crisp passes from the point. He also knows how to keep plays alive by pinching at the right moments. He’s set to rejoin Rögle in the Swedish Hockey League next season, and I don’t think he’s very far off from making his NHL debut. I envision him as a potential two-way, second-pairing defenseman at the NHL level.
What Others Have Said
Brock Otten, OHL Prospects:
“He’s the type of player that you really need multiple viewings of to grasp what he brings to the table. He’s definitely not extremely flashy. But he is extremely effective.”