Sheldon Keefe has confirmed that the 21-year-old defenseman will be replaced by Ben Hutton for Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, calling it a salary cap decision, and it is believed those same cap maneuvers should keep Sandin in the game. gap for matches. in Ottawa and Winnipeg next week as well.
This would exclude Sandin’s salary from the Leafs’ daily cap accounting and provide them with enough room to activate Riley Nash out of the long-term injury pool. Nash has recovered from a sprained knee since joining a trade with Columbus on April 9.
What Keefe made clear was that the roster decision was not related to any concerns about Sandin’s performance.
“Rasmus played really well for us and we really liked a lot about his game and what he brings to our team,” Keefe said after Friday practice. “His situation is actually more related to the salary cap than anything else.”
Sandin had appeared in eight straight games for the Leafs after barely playing in the previous 13 months. He has recorded four assists this season and recently spent time leading the best power play unit.
With Zach Bogosian’s shoulder injury set to sideline him for the rest of the month, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sandin return to the lineup for the start of the Leafs’ first-round series as the cap salary will not apply. then.
In the meantime, he’ll have a chance to do some extra work, and Sandin spent a good 30 minutes after Friday practice doing an extra skills session.
Hutton has only played one game since acquiring Anaheim at the trade deadline and is essentially injury insurance for the postseason. Keefe appreciates how the 376-game NHL veteran has handled while waiting for an opportunity like the one he will have next week.
“I think the first thing I like is just his personality,” Keefe said. “He’s another guy who’s pretty easy going. Things don’t bother him or bother him too much, he just goes about his business and is a good guy to have in that sense.
“He’s a guy who’s played a lot in the NHL and came here and hasn’t played a lot, but hasn’t been a distraction, hasn’t been a problem.
Nash and Zach Hyman (MCL sprain) both skated again in non-contact red jerseys in Friday practice and appear to have a tendency to return next week.
Frederik Andersen is expected to make another start with the Toronto Marlies on Saturday afternoon as he continues his LTI conditioning loan in the American Hockey League.
Andersen will get the full game against the Manitoba Moose after seeing 31 minutes of action against them Thursday, stopping 12 of 14 shots.
“It’s part of the progression for him,” Keefe said.
It’s unclear how long Andersen could factor into the Leafs’ decision-making again. He last played for them on March 19, when a persistent knee problem became too much of a burden to continue climbing and he is only eligible to stay with the Marlies until Tuesday under his terms. packaging loan.
There is a provision in the NHL collective agreement that allows these loans to be extended and it is not clear whether the Leafs could even create the cap needed to activate Andersen out of LTI if he felt fit to return before the end. of the regular season.
“This stint with the Marlies is just about getting back into play and getting back to work to be ready to play in the NHL games,” said Keefe, who declined to name his playoff starter on Thursday morning. .
MARNER ET MATTHEWS
On June 24, 2016, there was a distinct sense of hope in the air when Mitch Marner attended an outdoor Luke Bryan concert at the Budweiser Stage.
A fourth overall pick by his home side the year before, Marner hadn’t even made his Leafs debut yet when the organization caught Matthews with the No.1 selection while at that show. So when the enthusiastic spectators called out an “Aus-ton! Matt-hews! sing, he was also carried away by the excitement.
“The kid that I was and still am, I was singing too,” Marner said. ” [We laugh] about it now. I told Tony this story several times.
They have since become close friends and the NHL’s most dynamic duo outside of Edmonton. Entering the game on Friday, Marner was third overall in the league with 66 points while Matthews was tied for sixth with 64 points.
While former coach Mike Babcock was reluctant to play them together – wanting each to lead their own line – Keefe kept them almost exclusively together. Matthews has played 715 of his 821 5v5 minutes with Marner at his side this season, which has seen John Tavares and William Nylander consistently form two-thirds of the second row behind them.
“As far as Matthews and Marner go, you know there were times when of course I was a little tempted to try [separating them], and mix them up a bit, but I think there’s just been such a chemistry between the two and it brings real consistency in terms of the offensive threat to our team and I think it really poses a lot of problems for the team. ‘opposition to think about it,’ Keefe explained.
“I felt really comfortable with the chemistry of these pairs and felt that even if I stepped away from it a bit, it would never be anything permanent. So I didn’t feel it was too necessary and obviously the results were very positive on both fronts. I liked what the two pairs brought to our team.
Grooming always becomes a hot topic coming into the playoffs, and Marner is setting the tone for the Leafs, which has sparked some imitators.
He wears a runny mule these days and what appears to be the early growth of a mustache. Looked.
The Leafs have a barber with them inside their bubble and their teammates started asking for the Mitch Marner Mullet by jumping into his chair.
“A little Joe Dirt,” Morgan Rielly said, when asked to describe Marner’s current look. “I think it’s good, he has a nice mule. If you look closely, Joe [Thornton] actually has the same thing going on and i know Jack [Campbell] does something else.
“So it’s kind of a trailblazer that way.”