Kyle Bukauskas Notebook: Rasmus Sandin has always been a ‘big player’

Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Kelly Hrudey look at the play of young defenceman Rasmus Sandin, focusing on both his strengths and weaknesses.

Every other Monday, Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas will give you a peek behind the curtain and share stories about what he sees and hears in his job as a rink side reporter.

Based in Ottawa, Kyle’s notes will sometimes be about the Senators, but he’ll also include content from wherever Hockey Night in Canada takes him.

Here’s this week’s collection:

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1. Having the privilege to work on Saturday nights, you get the opportunity to learn about different connections hockey has to various corners of the country. Our research team found an old hockey card of Senators coach DJ Smith from his playing days with the St. John’s Maple Leafs.

The one thing we noticed in the top right corner of the card was the logo of Marie’s Mini Mart & Deli, a fixture in the St. John’s area since 1979. Smith lit up when we showed him the card and logo.

“Oh yeah! We’d get our sandwiches there. Either there or Billy Breen’s place, those sandwiches were massive. The players would go there all the time,” Smith said.

I exchanged emails with Rick Kenny, the co-owner of Marie’s, and he told me his phone was blowing up after his store was mentioned on Hockey Night. Newfoundlanders are among the most proud and supportive people there are. Good to see things are clearing up there after that horrific snow storm a few weeks back.

2. What a week for Mark Borowiecki. He scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season after tallying a total of eight his previous six seasons combined. Those goals may not have even happened if the stick he took to the face from the Devils’ Blake Coleman caught him an inch higher and struck his eye last Monday night.

It was a scary scene. The fact Borowiecki of all people rushed off the ice as quick as he did, you knew it was serious. Borowiecki said his right eye swelled up right away and when he tried to open it in the tunnel, he was worried he wouldn’t have any vision.

Thankfully, he yelled “I can see! I can see!” to the training staff. After gluing the cut, he was back on the ice a few shifts later.

Moments like that are why Brady Tkachuk refers to Borowiecki as “nail gun.”


3. Speaking of Borowiecki, he’s one of 10 pending UFAs on the Senators’ roster. He could become a father for the first time any day now, so no surprise taking care of his family is his number one priority at this stage.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau is just focusing on what’s led to a career year for him so far, though he is going to reach out to the likes of Mark Stone and Matt Duchene to pick their brains on how they handled their situations at this time last year.

GM Pierre Dorion returned from a lengthy European scouting trip last week. He’s been clear he’s not interested in discussing any specifics around contracts or trades publicly.

Three weeks left until the trade deadline and as we all wonder who will go and who will stay, you get the sense there’s just as much uncertainty inside the Senators dressing room as well.

4. Thanks to our stats guru, Jason Murdoch, for unearthing this gem from Rasmus Sandin when he was just 15 years old:

This was during what’s called the “TV-pucken”, an annual tournament featuring the best district teams in Sweden. The games are televised, and there are 5,000-6,000 people in the stands, an atmosphere Sandin had never played in before then.

Now, the goal above was beautiful, but the call may have been just as good. My Swedish is a little rusty so we spoke with Sandin before Saturday’s game and asked him to translate.

“That’s a big player with big-P, big-L, big-A, big-Y, big-E, big-R,” Sandin said with a smile.

A big player at 15, and he’s quickly becoming a big player for the Leafs at 19.

5. Trevor Moore returned from a 12-game absence due to a concussion after the all-star break and you may have noticed he has a slightly different look.

For most of his pro-career, Moore wore the old school Bauer 4500 helmet. After the injury, it was recommended to him to wear a helmet with more modern cushion and protection. So, he made the switch to the CCM Tacks 710.

Moore said he wasn’t sure if he’ll stick with that helmet moving forward and was the first to admit he doesn’t know how the technology all works. However, he was all for making the adjustment to help prevent head injuries moving forward.

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6. Got a chance to catch up with Anderson Whitehead at all-star weekend in St. Louis. He got the invite from Carey Price during that unforgettable moment at the NHL Awards last year.

Price, of course, wasn’t in St. Louis as Shea Weber represented the Canadiens this season. After winning the hardest shot during the skills competition, Weber visited with Anderson at Enterprise Center.

Apparently, during their chat Anderson had no problem telling Weber the Habs won the Weber/Subban trade. That young man has a bold personality with a wicked sense of humour, and we’re all better because of it.

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