Despite some question as to his availability, the Toronto Maple Leafs have decided to loan young defenseman Rasmus Sandin to Team Sweden for the World Junior Championship after all. Sandin will return to the tournament after recording four points in five games for the Swedish entry last year.
After Maple Leafs defenseman Tyson Barrie suffered an injury on Saturday night, there were reports that Sandin may need to be called up to Toronto if the ailment proved serious. Sandin began the year with the Leafs, recording two points in six games, but the team opted to send him to the AHL Marlies where he could be guaranteed ice time and special teams responsibilities. Yet, he still remains one of the club’s top call-up options in case of injury. There has been no word on Barrie’s status yet, but clearly the team felt they could deal with any potential absence without Sandin’s assistance.
Sandin has played well in his second pro season, registering two goals and 12 points in 18 games with the Marlies. The 2018 first-round pick projects to be a top-four defenseman down the road, but for now the team does not need to rush him at the expense of proper development. Playing in hte WJC against similarly skilled young prospects will be another great opportunity for growth for Sandin. It will also give he and several teammates for Sweden a chance at redemption, after the team was stunned in the quarterfinals last season after entering the tournament as the favorites.