The Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday recalled defenseman Rasmus Sandin from the team’s AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies; later in the day, the team said defenseman Morgan Rielly suffered a fractured foot in Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers and will miss at least eight weeks.
So the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship’s top defenseman — and one of Toronto’s top defense prospects — returns to the NHL for the first time since he was sent down to the Marlies in mid-October. The 19-year-old led all defenseman at the world juniors in scoring (three goals, seven assists) and finished fifth overall among all skaters.
World Juniors 2020: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Rasmus Sandin named best defenseman
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas and former coach Mike Babcock said in October that they sent Sandin down so he could play more minutes and skate in high-leverage situations. He averaged only 12 minutes and 13 seconds of ice time per game in his six-game stint with the NHL club to open the season.
“[Sandin] knows how many minutes he was playing and when you’re sitting there and you know you’re not getting to go out and you’d like to go out there, it’s not as much fun,” Babcock said at the time.
Sandin’s return coincides with the Leafs’ latest injury losses — top defensemen Rielly and Jake Muzzin will remain out for the foreseeable future as the season enters its stretch run and the Leafs push for the playoffs in a competitive Atlantic Division. Exactly when Rielly suffered his injury is unknown; it happened during Toronto’s 8-4 loss to Florida on Sunday, but he finished the game and played a team-high 21 minutes and three seconds. Muzzin was originally ruled out week-to-week with a broken foot on Dec. 28 and the team placed him on injured reserve on Jan. 12.
Sandin has 15 points in 21 games with the Marlies this season in addition to his impressive run at the world juniors as part of Sweden’s bronze-medal winning team.
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