The Toronto Maple Leafs almost saw both of their top defensive prospects suit up together at the recent World Junior Championship, but a late injury to Timothy Liljegren kept him out of the tournament. Now, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic reports that Rasmus Sandin, their other prized prospect, suffered an elbow injury in Sweden’s quarterfinal exit that will keep him out of action for four to six weeks. Though Sandin is still just 18 he had been making a significant impact for the Toronto Marlies while continuing his rapid development.
It’s a big blow for a prospect that has taken huge steps forward this season and was setting himself up to challenge for a roster spot next season. Sandin, the 29th overall pick from 2018, had ten points in 18 games for the Marlies this year and logged huge minutes for Sweden in the recent tournament. The left-handed shot is an all-around defenseman that relies on quick decisions and good positioning, but will now miss more than a month of important development time.
The Maple Leafs’ minor league affiliate aren’t having quite the same season that led them to the Calder Cup last year, and have struggled to find much consistency on defense or in net. With the NHL team stripping them of talent over the last few years, it will be hard to keep up a competitive program.