One of the interesting restricted free agents that remains unsigned is Rasmus Sandin of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 2018 first-round pick does not have arbitration rights yet and reports have emerged over the last few months about him wondering where he stands on the team’s depth chart, after they brought back Mark Giordano on a two-year deal.
Now, new comments from Sandin’s camp have emerged, explaining how little movement there has been in contract talks To Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, agent Lewis Gross said “negotiations are going nowhere.” Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas responded with some firm thoughts on negotiating through the media, including the fact that it “traditionally [does] not create resolutions to private matters.”
A player that is often linked to Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, signed a two-year, $2.8MM contract with the Maple Leafs in June, avoiding restricted free agency entirely. That contract is likely being used by Toronto as a direct comparable, given the similarity in production between the two young defensemen.
But even that $1.4MM average annual value might be an issue for the Maple Leafs right now, who are pushed right up against the cap once again. While their situation right now could be resolved by carrying a 20-man roster, it seems more likely that a trade is coming at some point – especially if they want to fit Sandin in.
The fact that no contract movement is happening will raise some eyebrows in that trade speculation, given the fact that Giordano, Morgan Rielly, and Jake Muzzin are locked in on the left side of Toronto’s blueline already. If Sandin was signed, then there would be no real reason to move him, as depth at defense is extremely important. But if contract talks have still not progressed, perhaps the team will have to move on at some point.
Like any of the other RFAs, Sandin will need a contract by December 1 if he wants to play in the NHL this season.