Rasmus Sandin is heading into the 2023-24 campaign with the Washington Capitals with a lot of expectations. After being traded to the Capitals at the trade deadline from the Toronto Maple Leafs, in exchange for Erik Gustafsson and Boston’s 2023 first round pick (acquired in the Garnet Hathaway and Dmitry Orlov trade), the Swedish defenseman is looking forward to being in a top-four role for the first time in his career.
The 23-year-old had an instant impact when he made his Caps debut on Mar. 4, against the San Jose Sharks, becoming the first defensemen in franchise history to record three points in a team debut. Two days later he scored his first goal in a Capitals uniform against the Los Angeles Kings along with tallying an assist.
Sandin finished the season with 35 points (seven goals, 28 assists), and 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) with D.C. Considering that the Caps were missing their top defenseman in John Carlson, and traded another top guy in Dmitry Orlov, the 5-foot-11 rearguard showed that he is ready to take a big step heading into his first full season with Washington.
The left-shot defenseman can be a very good compliment to Carlson on the first pair. From the limited time they played together, the duo had an xGF of 52.4%.
The big thing for the Swede heading into the new year is cleaning up his defensive game. Sometimes he was caught flat-footed in the defensive zone and wasn’t very good with his gap control, so a new structure and system should benefit him this season.
Another thing for the former first-round pick to look forward to is reuniting with Spencer Carbery, who was an assistant coach with Toronto and ran its power play during Sandin’s last two years with the Leafs. He had four points on the man-advantage with Washington and is likely going to be on the Caps’ second unit this year.
“I think he’s going to do great things for us and going to be a real good addition to our team. I’m looking forward to working with him, he’s really good at separating outside the ice, and walking in in the morning, he’s just a normal guy,” Sandin said on the 32 Thoughts podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek of Sportsnet.
“As soon as you step on the ice or [going into a game or practice], it’s different. I feel like that’s a really good thing that most players enjoy playing for and I’m really excited to play for him again.”
Sandin is entering the final year of his contract, but it is safe to say that president of hockey operations and general manager Brian MacLellan will want to lock him up long-term. He seems to be the future No. 1 defensemen when Carlson’s career comes to an end.
“Right now I feel great, feel stronger than ever, and excited for the season to start,” Sandin said.
By Jacob Cheris