Securing the Sandman: Locking Up Rasmus Sandin Long-Term Should be A Priority For the Capitals This Offseason

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The Washington Capitals’ trade deadline in 2023 was, perhaps, the most telling one of General Manager Brian MacLellan’s nine seasons at the helm of the front office. While the team dealt a number of longtime names, they received one that was likely unfamiliar to many fans.

As part of my contribution to the NoVa Caps Round Table on the pending offseason for the Washington Capitals and General Manager Brian MacLellan, I suggested the team extend defenseman Rasmus Sandin to a substantial deal. On a number of fronts, doing so would be a significant move for the team.

Capitals’ GM Brian MacLellan’s Annual Report Card For 2022-23

At just 23-years old, Sandin has not yet reached what many consider to be the prime years of an NHL player’s career (somewhere between 26-29 in many cases) and his play thus far with Washington was  nothing but impressive. In his first 19 Games Played as a member of the Capitals, the former first-round draft pick recorded 15 Points (three goals, 12 Assists) while taking on a career-high 22:59 of ice time a night (this even after the return of John Carlson from injury).

On the defensive side, Sandin finished his nineteen games in DC with a minus-7 rating, although he was a plus-3 on the season as a whole, and finished his first stretch in D.C. with a Fenwick For% of 45.50 (although finished with 51.1 on the season). While a number of key metrics compare negatively to that of his time with Toronto, when looking at the standings position of the two clubs at the conclusion of the regular season, it should be expected that Sandin’s numbers were to take a dip.

With a challenging offseason ahead for the team, the Capitals’ focus is to get younger and faster while still maintaining a competitive team with a number of aging veterans. While the sample size is small, Sandin and MacLellan have expressed plans for the young blueliner to have a far more significant role in Washington, with MacLellan stating in his post-trade deadline press conference.

“We like his age, we like his game. He’s a puck-moving, skilled defenseman, he’s a competitive guy. A real good 5-on-5 player so far, gonna add a little bit to the power play. There’s upside here…he’s going to get an opportunity with us to play higher in the lineup and I think he’s excited about it and I think he can take advantage of it. There’s only room to grow for him…we see a guy that hopefully we can build around going forward…that will play here a long time.”

While the Caps have yet to hire a new Head Coach, an inking of Sandin long-term would not only be wise on a financial basis (given the role anticipated for Sandin, his current salary of $1.4 million, and his play thus far, an eight-year deal in the range of $3.5-4 million per year would make sense), it would truly signify the club’s commitment to an effort of injecting more youth into the lineup.

At this point, it is anyone’s guess as to what the offseason will look like for the Capitals. While there is bound to be an influx of new and familiar names, signing what will hopefully be the team’s top defenseman in the future would be a step in the right direction.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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25 Responses to Securing the Sandman: Locking Up Rasmus Sandin Long-Term Should be A Priority For the Capitals This Offseason

  1. It sure looked like 1) he enjoyed coming here to DC and 2) he meshed with his teammates. It sure would be great if the Caps sign him to a long term deal.

  2. GRin430 says:

    I can see signing him to an extension, but 8 years is way too long and $3.5-4M is way too much. He showed some nice offensive instincts but he hasn’t really proven himself yet in the defensive zone. He’s an RFA, so there’s no need to rush — the Caps control his rights, and they can wait until next off-season to determine whether he’s a part of their long-term plans.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I see him as a much younger (and cheaper) John Carlson (more offensive value than defensive value – top pairing) Caps desperately need point-makers.

      • GRin430 says:

        Carlson is actually a fairly decent defender, despite what the fan-base thinks. He’s not a masher, but the details of his game — stick work, positioning — are pretty good. Not elite, but not as awful as some like to paint him.

        He is a much better overall defender at this point than Sandin, who tends to get beaten one-on-one, particularly going to/in front of the net, at least a few times per game. That doesn’t mean that Sandin won’t/can’t turn into a good defender, but he will always be undersized, and will have to improve his strength and really work on his positioning and stick technique to become a better defender. If he does improve defensively next year, then you lock him up with decent term next summer (4-5 years is plenty… 8 is for superstars… which he is not currently, and probably won’t ever be).

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          We’ll have to disagree on that one. On all of your points. Carlson is not a defensive defenseman. His offense is his value, and why he’s on the top pair (which gets mostly offensive zone shift starts, with top scoring forwards). His xGF% was terrible this season, but if injury was an issue, last season he was 24th on the team at 49%.

          The original point was teams need offensive defensemen, and Sandin is similar to Carlson in that manor. In fact he outperformed Carlson in scoring by a wide margin.

          • GRin430 says:

            I don’t disagree that Carlson is not a defensive defenseman, only that his actual defensive play is not as bad as many portray it, and in fact is significantly better than Sandin’s at this point, on the basis of which guy is most likely to get beaten/not do his defensive job in any given situation.

            My fear with Sandin is that he turns out to be more like Shayne Gostisbehere than Erik Karlsson. Both are undersized offensive defensemen; however, the latter drives play, the former has offensive skills that are more than offset by the extra defensive burden on his teammates. That’s why Ghost has bounced around the league a bit.

            Given the defensive weaknesses in the Caps’ current top 6 forward group, they really can’t afford to have any defenders not doing at least a decent job in their own end.

            Now, of course, if they can part with at least a few of those defensively inept forwards, they could afford to pay a bit more for a younger offensive defenseman with defensive liabilities… but not for 8 years. That would just give the folks on blog comment boards another bad contract to moan about in a couple of years.

            • Anonymous says:

              Bad take. Carlson sucks on D, and if he has been a top pair guy in 2018 there’s no way the team wins. He is best utilized when he’s protected.

              He also has one of the worst contracts in the game, given that he was signed to a larger contract than Hedman was, despite Carlson having been a second pair defenseman for his entire career to that point.

              That being said, his return in a trade wouldn’t be very good, and it would leave the Caps with no real veteran D who can mentor in all aspects of the game (how much can TVR teach Iorio about running a PP?). I imagine most teams would be wary given his age, term, and the horrific injury he suffered last season. So he’s stuck here long term, and the team should begin to transition him back to 2nd pair.

              There isn’t a real solution to shore up the D other than drafting and development. The team has done that- Fehervary is a great complementary dman and Alexeyev has learned enough to really focus on the physical side and following a great summer, should be a major contributor. Moving Carlson for a poor return without a real short and long term plan would be unwise.

            • Anonymous says:

              Agree, Carlson’s defensive play isn’t as horrific as some think. And why give an 8 year contract to a player who still needs to prove themselves? Some of the so called experts here are amazing.

            • dwgie26 says:

              Agree he is much better defensively than people give him credit for. I think the issue is that he just plays too many minutes. he has a lot of mileage on him.

              If me, I’d try to sign/trade for a top 4 left D to play with JC74 as second pair. Sandin and Jensen as first pair. JC74 gets his PP minutes. Will make him and the overall dee better.

      • hockeydruid says:

        I agree however I have a problem with 8 years. Let do 5 or 6 at say $3.5 the first 3 and $4.0 the last 2.

    • redLitYogi says:

      The term is just to get him to take the lower cap hit. That would be a great deal and I think the team would pay that now. The question is whether or not his agent won’t want to wait for a bigger pay day.

      • hockeydruid says:

        NO one is going to sign cheap if they are any good. Maybe someone like AA or Fehervary in a bridge deal but not a guy like Sandin who both he and his agent know his value to this team and in the league. Caps management has just made way to many mistakes in dealing out contracts in the terms of dollars and years and now they are paying for it. can you imagine what Wilson will be asking for?

        • Anonymous says:

          I think Willy will probably be around $6mm per on an 8 year deal with NMC for the first 4 years, followed by a limited NTC (which won’t matter because he’ll be named captain by then).

          • dwgie26 says:

            That seems about right. Maybe 6.5×8. I could see the 4-6 year around 7.5 – 8.5M. I’d have no problem with an 8 year deal at those numbers. Need a leader to transition post OV and I think Tom wants to be that guy.

  3. Chris D. says:

    I doubt Sandin will sign cheaply, and maybe not long-term either. He’s already shown he’s willing to bet on himself (even if it didn’t work out in that instance). $4.5–$5M at 3 or 4 years is my guess.

    • hockeydruid says:

      I agree with you he knows his value and he knows that the Caps need him. Hope that he sticks to his guns and get the money he deserves not taking a lower salary just to make the team happy. Wonder what Wilson will want and is asking for?

      • Chris D. says:

        This will be Wilson’s last real bite at the apple, so he’s going to want to make it count. If I were Wilson I’d take term over money but not a huge discount. If I were the Caps, I’d be really hesitant about signing a hard-hitting player like him well into his 30s.

  4. Lance says:

    6 years x 4 million is a risk I’d take. I think Sandin is a good middle pair LD. If he gets better that’s a great contract. If he loses his game that contract wouldn’t sink us.

  5. Prevent Defense says:

    NHL teams do very well with a Massive Animal – Holy Terror as a lead defenseman.

    Let’s see … Chris Pronger, Kjell Samuellson (Ulf too), Scott Stevens, Vlad Konstantinov, Chris Chelios come to mind from decades past. Victor Hedman is a modern prototype. Drew Doughty too. Caps did very well with Brooks Orpik clearing the crease and chipping-in on offense. Old Caps certainly did well with Rod Langway and perhaps Al Iafrate on the blueline. Getting to the point: Caps have some good ones with Sandin, Carlson, Van Riemsdyk, Jensen and Fehervary. They need a Massive Animal – Holy Terror. Don’t have one — yet.

    • Mark Eiben says:

      Other than maybe Graves and Gavrikov, soon to be free agents from NJ and LA Kings, I don’t see any defenseman with size to add to the Capitals. Also, don’t know if either of those players, while big, have the aggressive and tough side that is needed. Anyone know of a good player that fits PD’s description of what the blueline needs?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yea, the Caps can use that grit and toughness on D and at F.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lmfao there’s no way he’d sign 8 years for less than $5mm per. The cap is going up big soon and he will rightfully ask for a bigger chunk. Pipe dream for sure. A nice one though. The whole left side of the D should be locked up long term asap.

  7. Wayne Thomas says:

    We love reading your blog! Your distinctive perspective and real voice have an impact in the world. Keep sharing, because your thoughts matter. Thank you for being who you are!

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  8. dwgie26 says:

    I think 4-6 year term works for both sides. 4 gets us 1 year past OV. Then teams could decide. probably 3.5 – 5M. 8 year term would cost 6-7M and I’m not sure I would do that if Sandin. In 4 years he’ll be 27 and could sign a 6-8 year deal from there for prime dollars. I’d go as high as $5Mx4. Rather be at 4.25-4.5M.

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