Now this trade was a surprise for me. The Toronto Maple Leafs just announced a trade that I never saw coming. Today they moved Rasmus Sandin, who is a 22-year-old defenseman, to the Washington Capitals. Coming back was Erik Gustafsson and a first-round pick.

Sandin is a left-shooting defenseman from Uppsala, Sweden. He was drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. He stands at 5-foot-11 and weighs 182 pounds.

This season, Sandin has played in 52 games for the Leafs, scoring four goals and adding 16 assists (for 20 points). He is currently in the first year of a two-year contract worth $2.8 million and will become a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the deal.


Who Is Erik Gustafsson?

Erik Gustafsson was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round (93rd overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a 30-year-old, left-shooting defenseman from Nynashamn, Sweden, who stands at 6-foot-0 and weighs 197 pounds.

He’s played in the NHL for seven seasons, suiting up for the Chicago Blackhawks, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers, and Montreal Canadiens.

During the current season, he’s played in 61 games scoring seven goals and adding 31 assists (for 38 points) and has averaged 20:22 of ice time per game.

Related: Analyzing the Maple Leafs’ Trade for Jake McCabe & Sam Lafferty

Shocking? I’d Say So: What Does It Mean?

The Maple Leafs made a bold move by trading Sandin. He was a highly-touted young defenseman who I thought would be part of the team for seasons to come. I have to wonder if there were not some lingering issues with his contract holdout during the preseason.

Or, perhaps it was to get a first-rounder in return? Or. was it a salary-cap issue? There might be a number of reasons.

Gustafsson’s on an expiring contract that pays him $800,000. He likely will not return next season. With the trade, the Maple Leafs also got a first-round pick in this year’s draft. The trade indicates that the team is looking to strengthen its roster for a deep playoff run THIS season while also acquiring a valuable asset in the form of a first-round pick.

Ironically, the pick that the Maple Leafs acquired from the Capitals was originally acquired by Washington in a three-team deal involving Minnesota, and due to Boston’s position at the top of the NHL standings, the pick is currently projected to be the 32nd and final pick in the first round of this year’s draft.

Related: Maple Leafs Cap Situation Indicates Dubas Isn’t Done Yet

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