Flyers Expected to Sign Swedish Winger Linus Sandin (*UPDATE* - He Signed!)
Good news isn't exactly easy to come by today, especially in the sports world. While the NFL Draft is always anticipated and a much-needed distraction this year, it does little to whet hockey fans' appetites. It's been over a month since the last time NHL players suited up.
When they come back, the Flyers might have a new weapon in their arsenal. Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported that 23-year old winger Linus Sandin of the Swedish Hockey League's HV71 is expected to sign his entry-level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Linus' younger brother Rasmus is the more popular hockey player in the family. Rasmus was selected 29th in the 2018 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. This season, Rasmus Sandin made his NHL debut, playing in the Leafs six games before being sent down. He was recalled in mid-January for good. Overall, he scored a goal and seven assists in 28 NHL games this season, and should be a huge piece on the Leafs blue-line going forward.
On the other hand, Linus went un-drafted After two years in Allsvenskan (the SHL's top minor league), Sandin was promoted to the SHL. He played two years for Rögle BK before going to HV71 this year. Sandin truly made a name for himself this season, scoring 19 goals and 17 assists in 51 games for HV71. His 36 points made him tied for 16th in SHL scoring. Only one player (22-year old defender Johannes Kinnvall) younger than Linus Sandin and only two players 25 years or younger had more points than him.
Here are some tweets from Alexander Appleyard, who contributes to The Athletic's Flyers coverage and is an expert on the Flyers (and other clubs) European prospects, giving his thoughts on Sandin.
The Flyers contract with Sandin is not official as of yet. And it might be a while before it is. The Columbus Blue Jackets just had a contract to bring KHL winger Mikhail Grigorenko back to the league voided because the deal would not have started until next season. Granted, because Sandin is signing his entry-level contract, that specific rule should not be a concern. However, Johnston noted, "the NHL (is) still finalizing new transfer agreements with international federations," thus delaying the contract for now. But it seems like once all the red tape is cleared out, Sandin will become a Flyer.
Since he is 23 (and will turn 24 on May 19), Sandin's entry-level contract will be two years. It's extremely likely that it will be for $925,000, the highest salary a player can sign their entry-level deal for. Sandin reportedly received interest and offers from many NHL teams, and it's clearly a good thing he chose to take his talent to Philadelphia. He'll join forces with Robert Hagg; both were born in Uppsala, Sweden just over sixteen months apart. In fact, Hagg and Sandin played together for SuperElit's MODO Hockey J20 for nine combined games in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.
With the salary cap expected to remain flat at best and drop at worst, having Sandin gives the Flyers another potential NHL ready player on a deal that allows them to save money to allocate elsewhere. Sandin likely fits in the group of players like Morgan Frost, Tanner Laczynski, and Wade Allison, fighting for a third of fourth-line role in training camp. Because he has spent the last three years playing in a league of men mostly older and stronger than him, Sandin might have a slight leg up on his competition. Since he's scored 35 goals in the last two seasons (101 games), Sandin could fit in as a depth scoring but responsible forward. Perhaps he would fit well with a player like Frost, a pass-first playmaker who loves setting up his teammates. What kind of impact he'll have remains to be seen, but it's never a bad thing to acquire a quality, cheap player, and Linus Sandin checks both of those boxes.
UPDATE (4/29): The Flyers have officially signed Sandin to a 1-year entry-level contract with a cap hit of $925,000 for the 2020-21 NHL season. Sandin will be a restricted free agent when next season concludes. He is waiver-exempt for the 2020-21 season. He is not eligible to be taken by Seattle in the 2021 expansion draft.