Maple Leafs Coach Comments on Struggling Defenseman

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin was projected to take a giant step forward this season. The former first-round pick is entering his fourth season in the league, but unfortunately, it's not necessarily going to plan so far in 2022-23.

The 22-year-old Sandin is having issues with his game and doesn't appear to have the confidence in his game his head coach Sheldon Keefe would like to see out of him: 
It hasn't blossomed to the point you'd like it to. It looks like he's low on confidence at this time, and we need to help him get back to being himself. Confidence is a strength of his and allows him to play his game and feel good about getting involved offensively. As that happens, you just naturally feel better defensively.

While Sandin was recently showing signs of improving, his effort earlier this week against the Pittsburgh Penguins was not good enough. Sandin had one of the worst turnovers of the season, to some guy named Sidney Crosby.

Keefe spoke about the specific play after the game, one which he rewatched 100 times and had this to say:

Pittsburgh is on a line change, and (Zach) Aston-Reese is wide open in the middle of the ice to get us going very quickly the other way. That's a play that, normally, he would hit, and all of our defensemen would hit with a high degree of success. It just rolls off the back of his heel, and sometimes it happens. I spoke with him again here today just about clearing his head and getting back to being the player that he knows he can be. It hasn't come together for him like a number of our guys here in the early going, it hasn't happened for different reasons. He's one, but he's got far more to give us here, so we have to help him find that.

Sandin signed a two-year contract extension before the season at $1.4 million annually. In 18 games he's recorded four assists.

Photo credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports