Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
On February 28, 2023, the life of Rasmus Sandin changed radically. At the time he was on the ice for practice with his Maple Leaf teammates in Seattle in the early stages of a long road trip in the Northwest. Head Coach Sheldon Keefe said that media personnel wanted to talk to him, but he was then directed to see General Manager, Kyle Dubas, who informed him that he was just traded to the Washington Capitals.
“It came as a shock. I was training in Seattle and had packed for a ten-day road trip to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Seattle, and after the first game on that road trip they called me late – the coach said our media guy wanted to meet me. I got off and he said, ‘Kyle wants to see you’ and then I understood. But it was definitely a shock,” Sandin told NHL.com.
“Yes, of course. I was glad I didn’t have a wife and kids or anything. You know, having to move them and put the kids in new schools and things like that, it was definitely shocking, but it was also a lot of fun. Like I said, I had a lot of fun in Washington after I got there. So yes, I can’t wait until I get to play a full season.”
After learning of the trade, Sandin packed his bags and journeyed south to Anaheim, California where he met his new team who were on a West Coast Road trip of their own. Because of immigration issues, Sandin could not play in the Capitals game against the Anaheim Ducks on March 1. Those issues were resolved in time for the Capitals’ next game which was against the San Jose Sharks on March 4.
During his tenure with the Capitals, Sandin gained the trust of then-head coach Peter Laviolette and even spent time on the power play with Alex Ovechkin. This was an improvement over his role in Toronto, which generally was third-pairing defenseman.
“Yes, it was different. I mean, I got a good opportunity from the coaches and the teammates took good care of me. I really enjoyed it. It was just a lot of fun. I wasn’t there very long, but I really enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to a hopefully long time there now.”
For the Capitals, Sandin played in 19 games, scoring three goals and recording 12 assists for 15 points. Prior to the trade he had scored four goals and recorded 16 assists for 20 points overall in 52 games with the Maple Leafs.
Sandin is also looking forward to being reunited with former coach Spencer Carbery.
“I don’t really know. They are somewhat reminiscent of each other. The times that I worked with Carbery in Toronto were during power-play meetings and such. He was very good at getting the best out of each individual and working as a unit. So, I think it’s going to be very good for us.”
Sandin firmly believes the Capitals have a strong nucleus, but also believes the team will need a little luck to make the playoffs.
“A lot of things. But I think we have good qualities in the dressing room. The people we have in the dressing room mean a lot to us. The players here are really, really good. We have to have a little bit of luck, a little bit of belief and I really believe we’ll make the playoffs this year.”
Before the trade, Nicklas Backstrom was the only player on the Capitals that he knew personally.
“For me personally… when I arrived in Washington, he was the only one I knew, and I barely knew him. But he was the one I was a little familiar with. But he introduced me to everyone on my first day. He meant a lot to me.”
Sandin believes it would be very meaningful for the team with Backstrom back for a full season and able to play at his usual level.
“I definitely think he can have a good season. Last season was obviously tough for him, with the surgery and everything. That would mean a lot. Everyone knows how good ‘Nick is. He played me into a few chances last year that I could have scored on and you thought ‘no way he’ll see me here’, and then he puts a great backhand pass through two guys and you basically get an open goal. He will mean a lot.”
By Diane Doyle
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