Leafs Prospect Roundup: Marlies’ season set to begin, Niemela returns to action, Miettinen earning accolades

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Rasmus Sandin finally got into a game for the first time in close to a year this week, playing just five minutes and registering an assist in a 3-1 victory over Vancouver. While he is still on the outside looking in when it comes to regular playing time with the Leafs, it appears as though there is finally a path for Sandin and several other Leafs prospects to get plenty of ice time with news that the Marlies will begin their AHL season next week.

The AHL announces the Toronto Marlies’ first game will be on Feb. 15 in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Moose. #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) February 9, 2021

There has been plenty of discussion surrounding Sandin’s lack of playing time but another top prospect and former first round pick, Timothy Liljegren, is also coming up on an entire calendar year since his last real game. With a looming expansion draft, he could factor into the Leafs’ plans as soon as next season and getting him back into regular game action will be imperative as he looks to prove himself capable of holding down an NHL job.
Joey Anderson, acquired from the New Jersey Devils in …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

What to expect from Rasmus Sandin this summer

What should we expect from Rasmus Sandin? Well, whatever you are thinking, do yourself a favour and dial it back a little further. A 20 year old defenseman with less than 30 games probably shouldn’t have too much put on him at this point, and with Rielly, Muzzin, Barrie, Dermott, Holl, and (*cough*) Ceci all healthy, Sandin could very well be on the outside looking in for the playoffs, and that’s okay. Wait, that’s not true. I’ll definitely be disappointed if Cody Ceci is playing ahead of Sandin.
Of course, it’s a lot more fun to believe that Sandin will go on a Cale Makar style playoff run, and given all that has happened in the world, if you want to believe in that, who am I to take it away from you?
By the numbers

What we’ve seen from Sandin so far is pretty much what you’d expect to see from a developing young defenseman. Sandin has had to endure working with different partners on a regular basis, playing further up in the lineup than he is ready to, due to the Leafs excessive defensive injures, and …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Rasmus Sandin under Babcock vs. under Keefe

It’s official. The Leafs are paying Rasmus Sandin. He’s into his rookie season, and we can safely say that he’s been anointed the new hope of the Leafs blueline. That’s all well and good. I just worry that by sending him back down to Marlies the Leafs have hurt his chances on passing Makar and Hughes in the Calder race.
Given that Sandin is here to stay, and arguments are already being made for him as 1) A permanent defenseman. 2) A top four defenseman. 3) The Leafs best defenseman. I thought lets quickly look at some of his numbers to date.
So some interesting shifts in the numbers, the incredibly small numbers, but numbers nevertheless. Under Keefe, Sandin has had more ice time and given the number of goals we’ve seen compared to what he had under Babcock, he is certainly less sheltered.
We’ve seen significant improvements in regards to expected goals as well, and Sandin still carries a positive shot attempt differential as well, despite it dipping now …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

We don’t need to write off Liljegren to write in Sandin

In case you haven’t heard, Rasmus Sandin is a Toronto Maple Leaf. In what became easily the biggest story of camp these last two weeks, the 2018 first-rounder shot up the organization like a rocket to nab a NHL roster spot and will make his debut a couple days from now. And the discussion around him isn’t “Can he stick all season?”, it’s “How far into his potential can he dig right now?”, and I’m not even sure I’d bet against him playing top four minutes within 20 games. It’s been that kind of camp.
But with Sandin’s ascent came the typical comparisons that Leafs supporters like to make, with Timothy Liljegren being the obvious target for some negative talk. This happens all the time in hockey and in sports in general, especially in Toronto; Marner can’t be good without it meaning Nylander is now somehow bad, even Rielly and Gardiner had similar discussions surrounding them. It’s par for the course, especially when the players get to the NHL level. But Liljegren isn’t at that level yet, and while people are quick to point that out as a failure on his part, …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Should the Leafs burn a year of Sandin’s Entry-Level Contract?

Rasmus Sandin has been one of the most impressive young Leafs this preseason. The 19-year-old defenceman has done everything to surprise and excite fans and front office personnel. But should the Leafs really burn a year of his Entry-Level Contract, just to have a young blueliner start his NHL career?
Since drafting him just over a year ago, the defenceman archetype that he fits best is a calm defender that will be an extremely agile powerplay quarterback. He has shown exactly that in the preseason through the couple of exhibition games.
It’s a small sample size of course, but he has been able to keep up with some NHL regulars and has demonstrated some ability to read plays and help the Leafs on both ends of the ice.

Sandin breaks up the play in the neutral zone and gets it to Read who scores with a curl-and-drag pic.twitter.com/w1fGVMveH4
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) September 21, 2019

Just a small play in the neutral zone that leads to a goal. It’s simple, but it’s what players do to get noticed by coaches and make it into the top league.
All signs are pointing to Sandin being in the starting …

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Author: Thomas Williams / The Leafs Nation