Former Leaf opens up about his time in Toronto and his continued friendship with William Nylander

Mike Armenti
September 4, 2023  (10:49)

Last season, just ahead of the NHL's trade deadline, there were a lot of raised eyebrows and dropped jaws when the Toronto Maple Leafs pulled the trigger on a deal sending Rasmus Sandin to Washington for Erik Gustafsson and Boston's 1st round pick (acquired by the Caps in the Dmitry Orlov deal).

Sandin was largely viewed as a future star defenseman in Toronto. He played parts of 4 seasons with the Leafs and had, at one point, even leapfrogged 2017 17th overall pick Timothy Liljegren on the Leafs' depth chart. However, a long, drawn out set of contract negotiations combined with an underwhelming 2022-23 season and an infusion of some new faces on the blueline in Toronto led to Sandin being moved.
Recently, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek caught up with Sandin during the European media tour and asked him a variety of questions regarding his transition from Toronto to Washington, his familiarity with new Caps head coach and former Leafs assistant Spencer Carbery and his bond with William Nylander. Here's what he had to say.
"I feel like there wasn't that many changes. I mean, obviously, leaving the teammates I had in Toronto and coming to a new group - Toronto's guys on the team were pretty young... Lots of guys were younger and kind of getting to know their team. I feel like the older guys on our team now, it feels like they're as young as I am now, which is great... just walking in the city, people don't maybe recognize you in the same way, stuff like that, but I love my time in Washington." - Sandin on the differences between Toronto and Washington so far
"That was obviously a curveball, when I got traded. Coming to Washington, too, I mean I think I knew two guys pretty well. One guy was Erik Gustafsson, who got traded for me and the second guy was Marcus Johansson, who got traded like 5 minutes before I did, so I was like 'who am I going to know like on the team?' and then obviously we had Nick (Backstrom) there and Nick is a fantastic guy. He took care of me from day one. I mean, he set up by the breakfast, waiting for me to come down and introduced me to all the guys." - Sandin on who helped him out most coming over to the Caps
Sandin revealed that he had enjoyed his time with new Caps head coach Spencer Carbery in Toronto and that he's excited to play for him again this season in Washington. One of the areas that he's most excited for is to play on the power play with Backstrom and powerplay trigger man Alex Ovechkin.
"Playing with Ovi and Backy and those guys, I mean, those players are two guys who I looked up to when I was younger and still do. So getting the chance to play with both of them now is surreal... waiting for Ovi to come into the locker room, I was kind of nervous to meet him finally, but it was awesome." - Sandin on his level of excitement to play with Backstrom and Ovechkin
Sandin also touched on his relationship with William Nylander, with whom he remains very close. The two have been close friends for a number of years, dating back to before Sandin was even drafted.
"I'm almost getting emotional just thinking about it. I mean, Willy is one of my best friends and I've known him since about 2016, 2015... when I got drafted to Toronto and he was on the same team, it was just awesome. I mean I lived with him for 1 year and stayed with him at the beginning of last season as well and when he found out [that I had been traded], I mean he still talks about it a little bit here and there... we chat every single day, no matter where we play. [Even] after, he's like 'it feels weird, like going for dinner and you're not around' and stuff like that... when we walked off [at the practice when I was traded], I think that was really cool, and he was kind of saying 'don't cry yet, the camera's around', so he didn't want to show that and just telling me some nice stuff and thought it was good, and wished me the best and since then, I think we still talk every day." - Sandin on his longstanding friendship with William Nylander
Regardless of whether he remains a Capital beyond this season or wherever he may go after this year, Sandin began his career as a Maple Leaf and he'll always be a Leaf in our hearts. Wishing Rasmus all the best this season and moving forward.
Sandin has 1 year remaining on his 2-year, $2.8M deal, which he had signed with the Maple Leafs last fall.
Former Leaf opens up about his time in Toronto and his continued friendship with William Nylander

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