Rasmus Sandin – Soo Greyhounds – Player Profile

Height: 5’11”

Weight:  190 pounds

Date of birth: March 7, 2000

Hometown: Uppsala, Sweden

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 52nd overall, 2017 CHL Import Draft

Much of the 2018 National Hockey League Draft chatter, when talking about Ontario Hockey League defencemen, has been centered around the Guelph Storm’s Ryan Merkley and the London Knights’ Evan Bouchard.

Don’t look now, but here comes Rasmus Sandin of the Soo Greyhounds.

While Sandin isn’t considered in some circles to be in the same class as Merkley or Bouchard, there is a compelling case to be made that he could very well be the second defenceman taking from the OHL. Yours truly is firmly on that bandwagon.

Sandin, Rasmus (1)
Rasmus Sandin. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Hockey League.

If one wasn’t convinced earlier in the season, then the admirable job Sandin has done in the absence of the Greyhounds’ top defenceman Conor Timmins, who is representing Canada at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York should be drawing your attention. In recognition of his performance, he was named OHL Rookie of the Month for December.

Sandin wasn’t an unknown. Coming into this season, he was ranked as a B Prospect by NHL Central Scouting on their Players to Watch List.  On their updated list in November, Sandin was among 139 Canadian Hockey League players listed, this time as an A Prospect.  (B prospects are considered a second or third round pick while an A prospect is considered a first-round pick.)

Sandin was the 52nd overall pick at the CHL Import Draft in 2017. But Sandin was under a contractual obligation with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League for this season. He appeared in five games in Sweden’s top league (one assist) before Greyhounds General Manage Kyle Raftis could secure his services. Raftis worked diligently for some time to make it come to fruition.

What exactly have the Greyhounds done since his arrival? Well, he helped solidify their blue line for one thing. And the Greyhounds have gone on to win 23 of the 24 games he’s been in the lineup – 23 straight and 2 shy of the OHL record held by the Kitchener Rangers.

I’m not about to suggest that is all due to Rasmus Sandin. However, for a team to go on such an amazing run, you need 20 players all pulling in the same direction and playing almost flawlessly on any given night. And Sandin gives you that.

Last season, Sandin played in Sweden’s top junior league, Super Elite League, with Brynas and in 36 games scored 3 goals and added 18 assists. He also captained Sweden’s entry at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 where he had 2 assists in 6 games and captured Gold with Sweden.

Sandin’s excellent leadership qualities were at the forefront again in August as he was named Sweden’s captain for their squad at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. The Swede’s would capture a Bronze at the tournament that begins the year for draft eligible players. He would register 3 assists in 5 games.

Internationally, Sandin has also represented Sweden at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 tournaments.

As with most sub-six-foot defencemen, questions arise about size. But at 190 pounds, he has the bulk most of his peers are still trying to add on. He has the upper body strength to engage physically while battling along the wall or in front of his goal. While he isn’t a “physical defenceman” he can separate players from the puck and uses his strength to protect the puck. He shows no signs of playing timid and will absorb the hit to make a play.

While there are also questions about a lack of high end speed or an explosive first step, it’s not something that gets him into trouble. He’s not a slow skater by any means and it is something he can continue to work on to improve.

But he’s also a very smart skater, skating smartly to conserve his energy which allows him to eat up valuable minutes. He controls his edges very well, has very good lateral movement, pivots and turns very well and skates backwards with relative ease.

Smart is an adjective you will hear a lot about Sandin. Any disadvantage he has, he overcomes because of it. In the defensive zone he possesses excellent gap control with near flawless positioning with his body or very active stick. He is very adept at angling players out and keeping them to the outside, although he can sometimes be beaten on the outside by a speedy forward.

Sandin is excellent at retrieving pucks. He plays a calm, unrushed game. He can clear the zone with an excellent, crisp, tape-to-tape first pass enabling him to elude the forecheck effectively. He stretches the ice extremely well and can “lead” teammates with a perfect pass. But he can also skate out of danger with an uncanny knack to slow the pace down, and then reads and reacts patiently. He is also an effective penalty killer and gets quality PK time with the Greyhounds.

Offensively, Sandin isn’t as flashy as Merkley or Bouchard. But at the time of writing this, he leads all OHL rookies in scoring and is third only to Bouchard and Merkley in offense from the blue line among draft eligible players, just shy of a point-per-game pace. He’s tenth among all draft eligible players in assists, while playing fewer games.

Again, he uses his hockey smarts and knows when to jump into the play to create offense. He knows when to pinch in and go down low and rarely gets beaten. He can quarterback the powerplay and makes excellent passes. He doesn’t possess an overpowering or heavy shot, but he can get it off with a purpose, whether looking for a deflection or to create a rebound.

You can certainly make an argument that he is the best two-way defender available from the OHL and you wouldn’t get much of an argument.

I had the opportunity to have a lengthy chat with Rasmus’ father Patric Sandin about Rasmus the hockey player and Rasmus the person.

The elder Sandin told us that Rasmus is self taught in a lot of ways.

“When he was three years old he used to borrow his moms inline size 8 skates and skate all over the house with absolute full control. He learned to ride a bicycle when he was turning 5 without any help.” He added, “first time I saw him on a bicycle he was riding his moms bicycle downhill in full speed and he was only 5!! Crazy kid.”

Rasmus is also very family oriented and close with his family. His older brother Linus, who is four years older and plays for Rogle of the Swedish Hockey League has had a major influence on him. Patric told us “Linus has always let Rasmus to be with him and play with the older guys.”

It speaks volumes to Rasmus’ competitiveness and willingness to be the best he can be:

“When Linus was going to a training camp at 11 years old, Rasmus also wanted to go even though he was only 7. We told him ‘if he could tie his own skates properly he could go and if the camp was willing to have a boy who was several years younger to sleep over and compete with the older guys’. Rasmus directly started to practice tying his own skates and after two days hard work he managed to do that. He went to the camp with the much older boys and after that he has always been independent and competed with older kids.”

That independence would come in handy and in very short order for Rasmus.

“‘He is the most mature boy I ever met’ is something I hear from people who meet Rasmus. He has been living by himself since he was 14 years old when he played for Modo and after that he moved to Brynas when he was 15. At 17 he got a contract and moved to Rogle with his brother. After five games with Rogle in SHL he decided to move to SSM because he was absolutely confident that it would make him a better hockey player.”

But how does a “child” survive without mom’s home cooking? “He is an excellent cook, loves to make a nice steak with belongings and crossed asparagus and a good sauce. He always takes a picture of it and sends me that picture. There is nothing he can’t do if you ask Rasmus himself.” Said Patric.

“He really loves his family and is very close with his brother. Rasmus is the whole package – not just hockey – I think. He always stands up for those who need help whatever it is. He is a good friend I think. We are really proud of our two boys. Not just of the hockey… especially that they are really nice and good to other people.”

And proud parents they should be.


OHL Top Performers of the Month for December

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for regular season games played in December 2017, including the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds trio of Morgan Frost, Rasmus Sandin and Matthew Villalta along with London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard.

OHL Player of the Month – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):

Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Player of the Month for December after leading the league with 20 points including eight goals, 12 assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-18 over 10 games. The third-year centreman continued a 14-game point streak through the end of the month, registering multi-point outputs in eight of the 10 games he played. Frost earned first star honours twice this past month, scoring twice on Dec. 13th against Flint before registering four points (2-2–4) on Dec. 16th in Guelph.  His most recent performance featured a goal and an assist against the Guelph Storm on Dec. 30th as the Greyhounds pushed their current winning streak to 23 games.

Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

An 18-year-old native of Aurora, Ont., Frost leads the OHL in scoring with 60 points (21-39–60) over 36 games while also leading all players with a plus-46 plus/minus rating. He has recorded at least one point in 20 games of the Greyhounds’ current 23-game winning streak that dates back to Oct. 28th. The. 6-foot, 180Ib. centreman represented Team OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series earlier this season after being chosen in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers last summer. Frost was Sault Ste. Marie’s fourth round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Barrie Colts Minor Midgets.

OHL Defenceman of the Month – Evan Bouchard (London Knights):

For the second straight month, draft eligible London Knights blueliner Evan Bouchard is the OHL Defenceman of the Month. Bouchard led OHL rearguards with 16 points including five goals and 11 assists over 11 games along with a plus/minus rating of plus-7. The 6-foot-2, 191Ib. defender had points in nine of his 11 games, helping the Knights to a 7-3-0-1 month of December. Bouchard started the month by earning third star honours with a goal and an assist on Dec. 1st against Oshawa. A week later his goal and an assist on Dec. 8th against Peterborough earned him second star recognition. Bouchard earned first star honours on Dec. 12th in Erie, scoring the overtime winner while also recording an assist. He ended 2017 with a three-assist outing on Dec. 31st in Sarnia.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

An 18-year-old product of Oakville, Ont., Bouchard currently leads OHL defencemen with 46 points including 13 goals and 33 assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-14 in 37 games. The right-handed shooting blueliner has a total of 19 points on the power play this season. He represented the OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series and has been named to the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game set for Jan. 25th in Guelph. Bouchard was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Bouchard was London’s first round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Oakville Rangers Minor Midgets.

OHL Rookie of the Month – Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):

Draft eligible Swedish blueliner Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Rookie of the Month for December. The 17-year-old had nine points including two goals and seven assists in 11 games from the back end this past month, helping the Greyhounds continue a 23-game winning streak. Sandin recorded two assists on Dec. 10th against Windsor before earning first star honours with a career-high three points (2-1–3) on Dec. 29th against Flint, setting up teammate Barrett Hayton for a late game-winning goal.

A 17-year-old native of Uppsala, Sweden, Sandin currently leads OHL rookie defencemen in scoring with 21 points (4-17–21) and a plus-19 rating in 24 games this season. After starting the season with Rogle BK of the Swedish Elite League, Sandin joined the Greyhounds in October and the team has proceeded to win 23 of their 24 games with him in the lineup. He has been named to the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 25th in Guelph and was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Sandin was Sault Ste. Marie’s first round pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):

For the second straight month, Los Angeles Kings prospect Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month. The 18-year-old played to a perfect 7-0-0-0 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage this past month, continuing the Hounds’ 23-game winning streak along with a 16-game winning streak of his own. Villalta stopped 25 of 26 shots on Dec. 16th in Guelph before returning from the holiday break to earn second star honours with 30 saves on Dec. 28th against Saginaw. His latest outing included 39 saves and three shootout denials as the Greyhounds won their 23rd straight contest, defeating the Guelph Storm on Dec. 30th.

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A 6-foot-3, 183Ib. native of Godfrey, Ont. outside of Kingston, Villalta leads OHL goaltenders with a 2.45 goals-against average along with a 23-2-1-0 record, a .912 save percentage and one shutout. He holds an impressive career record of 48-5-1-0 over 59 career regular season games to go with a 2.43 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts. A free agent addition by the Greyhounds out of Training Camp in 2016, Villalta was a third round pick by the Los Angeles Kings this past summer.

2017-18 OHL Performers of the Month:

Player of the Month:
December – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
October – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Defenceman of the Month:

December – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
November – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
October – Sean Durzi (Owen Sound Attack)

Rookie of the Month:
December – Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Blade Jenkins (Saginaw Spirit)
October – Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)

Vaughn Goaltender of the Month:
December – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
October – Justin Fazio (Sarnia Sting)

2017 CHL Import Draft Results

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the final results of the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

The 26th annual CHL Import Draft included a total of 72 players consisting of 50 forwards and 22 defencemen selected from 11 different countries featuring a draft-high 19 players from Russia.

The two-round draft took place online with the order of selection rotating through each of the CHL’s three leagues using an inverse order of final regular season standings within each league from the 2016-17 season.

The Barrie Colts used the first overall pick to acquire Russian forward Andrei Svechnikov, a 2018 NHL Draft prospect who recently earned bronze at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.  His international hockey success this season also included a MVP performance at the World Junior A Challenge, and a bronze medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he led the tournament in points.  The Moncton Wildcats used the second overall pick to select fellow Russian forward and 2018 NHL Draft prospect Alexander Khovanov who was an Under-17 teammate of Svechnikov capturing bronze in Sault Ste. Marie last November.  At third overall the Kootenay ICE selected Switzerland’s Gilian Kohler, a forward also eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft.


The 2017 CHL Import Draft featured 11 players previously selected by NHL teams in 2016 and 2017 drafts.  Of that group, five players were selected in the first two rounds this past weekend in Chicago including first round picks Martin Necas (12th, Carolina) chosen 10th overall by the Saginaw Spirit, Timothy Liljegren (17th, Toronto) chosen 13th overall by the Niagara IceDogs, and Filip Chytil (21st, New York Rangers) chosen seventh overall by the North Bay Battalion.  Second round NHL Draft picks selected in the Import Draft include Alexandre Texier (45th, Columbus) taken 17th overall by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, and Joni Ikonen (58th, Montreal) chosen 28th overall by the Hamilton Bulldogs.

A total of 37 players selected in the 2017 CHL Import Draft are first-year eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, while four players selected are not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2019.

Each team in the CHL is permitted to dress and play a maximum of two import players each season who are selected annually through the CHL Import Draft.

2017 CHL Import Draft Summary:

Draft Picks by Position:
Forward – 50
Defence – 22

Draft Picks by Country:
Russia – 19
Czech Republic – 15
Sweden – 8
Slovakia – 7
Belarus – 6
Germany – 6
Finland – 4
Switzerland – 4
Denmark – 1
France – 1
Slovenia – 1

Draft picks by Birthdate and NHL Status:
2000-born late and 2019 NHL Draft eligible – 4
2000-born and 2018 NHL Draft eligible – 29
1999-born late and 2018 NHL Draft eligible – 8
1999-born and 2017 NHL Drafted – 8
1999-born early and NHL Undrafted – 15
1998-born and NHL Drafted – 3
1998-born and NHL Undrafted – 5

NHL Draft picks in CHL Import Draft:
4. Alexei Toropchenko (Guelph – 4th round to St. Louis in 2017)
7. Filip Chytil (North Bay – 1st round to NY Rangers in 2017)
10. Martin Necas (Saginaw – 1st round to Carolina in 2017)
13. Timothy Liljegren (Niagara – 1st round to Toronto in 2017)
17. Alexandre Texier (Baie-Comeau – 4th round to Columbus in 2017)
28. Joni Ikonen (Hamilton – 2nd round to Montreal in 2017)
41. Jan Drozg (Shawinigan – 5th round to Pittsburgh in 2017)
45. Oleg Sosunov (Moose Jaw – 6th round to Tampa Bay in 2016)
49. Jesper Bratt (London – 6th round to New Jersey in 2016)
53. Ostap Safin (Saint John – 4th round to Edmonton in 2017)
119. Linus Nassen (Medicine Hat – 3rd round to Florida in 2016)

A total of 15 players acquired through the CHL Import Draft were recently selected in the 2017 NHL Draft including New Jersey Devils first overall pick Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads. Other first round picks included Finnish defencemen Juuso Valimaki of the Tri-City Americans selected 16th overall by the Calgary Flames and Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks selected 29th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Last season a total of 79 players were selected from 11 different countries led by 24 players from Russia and consisting of 53 forwards and 26 defencemen.