GM Kyle Dubas explains why the Leafs decided to trade Rasmus Sandin, reasons for targeting Schenn, Gustafsson

Published March 3, 2023 at 4:31 PM

Following what was a pretty uneventful trade deadline day for the Leafs, Kyle Dubas spoke with the media to take questions and address some of the moves that the Leafs have made this week, including the moves away from Rasmus Sandin and Pierre Engvall and the decisions to bring in Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson.

On Gustafsson, Dubas identified him as a player that the Leafs have had their eye on for awhile as they tracked his progress and the improvements in his game, especially this season with Washington. Dubas admitted that there was a chance to bring back multiple draft picks for Sandin, but instead opted to bring back, along with the 2023 1st round pick (BOS), an offensive defenseman who had a bit of a reputation for being a strong power play contributor.

On Schenn, Dubas revealed that the management group and the coaching staff had met on a number of occasions to discuss what their biggest weaknesses were on the back end. He revealed that getting a big, physical defensive defenseman was a priority for everyone involved and that targeting Schenn, in combination with the Sandin/Engvall moves, lined everything up nicely from a salary cap perspective.

The most surprising move of the week was the Sandin trade. With regard to why that move was made, Dubas had this to say:

"With regard to Rasmus [Sandin], he's been a part of the organization for nearly 5 years and as we went through it here, we just felt that the draft capital coming back was going to be something that we could use to either add a higher end prospect to our system in June in Nashville, or survey what the market's going to be as we get into June in terms of trade. We felt that was important for where we're at right now and where our roster was going to be. That was the decision-making that went into it."

-Dubas on the rationale for trading Rasmus Sandin

Add to that the fact that the Jake McCabe deal pushed Sandin down to the 7th D spot - a spot that he wasn't thrilled about playing last season - and it's pretty easy to see why the Leafs felt it was necessary to be able remove any potential distractions and focus on building a cohesive, well-rounded D corps.

With these moves having been made, the Leafs' blueline now has incredible depth, including the likes of Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, Jake McCabe, Timothy Liljegren, Mark Giordano, Justin Holl, Luke Schenn, Conor Timmins, Erik Gustafsson and Jordie Benn. We saw first hand at the beginning of this season what can happen in a very short time when it comes to injuries decimating a lineup. The Leafs, at one point, were missing all of Rielly, Brodie and Muzzin and had their depth tested. You can't really blame Kyle Dubas for wanting to have 10 NHL-caliber defensemen for their playoff run to avoid dipping into AHL players and prospects who may not be quite ready for NHL action - let alone PLAYOFF action.
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