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Sandin Staying In Present Amid Historic Start With Capitals, High Hopes For Future

Washington Capitals blueliner Rasmus Sandin has gotten off to a historic start with his new club, and the plan is to take things day by day.



Amid a sell-off and retool on the fly, the Washington Capitals brought in young defenseman Rasmus Sandin from the Toronto Maple Leafs to add some depth and start preparing for the future on the blue line. With Dmitry Orlov and Erik Gustafsson being shipped out and John Carlson still recovering, Sandin has been thrown into the fire, and he hasn't disappointed while also defying all expectations.

Sandin has gotten off to a historic start for the Capitals, and through four games, he has a goal and seven assists. He is the first player in franchise history to have at least eight points and three multi-point performances through his first four games with the team.

His eight points rank third among all NHL blueliners since the trade deadline, and he's played fewer games than the three blueliners ahead of him. Not only that but his 4.19 assists per 60 leads all blueliners with at least two games played. Sandin has also made the team's defensive departure sting a bit less; he has done for Washington what Orlov did for Boston following his trade there, as both put up the same point totals after switching teams

"I think we're just having a lot of fun out there," he said modestly regarding his play and growing chemistry with recently re-signed partner Trevor van Riemsdyk on the top pairing.

Beyond his point production, Sandin has also thrived in a top-pairing role. He is averaging 25:02 minutes per game and also logged 29:58 minutes back on March 9 against the New Jersey Devils. The Swede has been on the ice for 10 goals for and three goals against, with just one of those coming against at even strength (5-on-5). Sandin has also brought a new spark to the power play.

READ MORE ON WHN: Are Washington Capitals' Playoff Chances As Dire As They Seem?

Looking at his play, the 23-year-old brings a lot to the table. He's a strong skater and smart passer who can break the puck out efficiently, make crafty, deceptive on the fly and move the puck cleanly while finding clear passing lines and generating quality scoring chances. Sandin takes good care of the puck and sees the ice very well, and he also has a high hockey IQ that makes him an asset at both ends.

"He's been a great addition for us," Conor Sheary said. "We were pretty injured on our backend right now. Bringing a young guy in like that with that much skill, he's able to work on our power play and our top d-pair and play a lot of minutes for us, and he's been really good."

Sandin has not only taken advantage of the opportunity but has gained more confidence as he earns more responsibility from the coaching staff.

"It means a lot. It’s very fun that they have that belief in you and now it’s up to me to keep playing good to stick in that spot. So it’s been a lot of fun and it’s fun that the coaching staff believes in me for sure.”

Though it's a small sample size for Sandin so far, his play has been convincing as he's shown what he can do with heavier minutes and a bigger role at both ends of the ice. There are still ways to go, but right now, Sandin is staying focused on the present.

“I haven’t thought of it that way. Now I’m just trying to take it day by day, still very new for me," Sandin said regarding his role in the years to come. "I’m very excited about it. I haven’t thought about it too much right now, it’s just taking it day by day and game for game. Just trying to play as good as we can as a team.”

In the end, while Sandin hasn't looked too far ahead, he is expected to play a pivotal role in the team's future. He is a restricted free agent at the end of next season, and general manager Brian MacLellan hopes that he and the Capitals can build around him and see him become a member of the future core. In turn, Sandin is eager to live up to the anticipation.

"Looking forward to being here hopefully for a very long time," Sandin noted.

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