The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Travis Dermott 34th overall at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, dropping in the draft order twice before electing to pick up the Erie Otters blue liner.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) July 22, 2015
Now, he’s inked a three year entry level deal – making him the first member of Toronto’s 2015 draft class to do so.
Initially ranked a bit lower in the NHL Central Scouting rankings (the scouting list had Dermott 42nd among North American skaters in the final year rank), Dermott impressed the Leafs enough to pick him up a bit early – and it’s easy to see why.
Where he lacks a particularly flashy or high-level shot, the Newmarket native possesses both a calm and well-positioned style of play that could easily develop into a strong, NHL-calibre two-way game on the blue line. He’s smart and calculating, playing a seemingly controlled game until he’s sure he’s in the right position to attack – suggesting a high level of hockey sense to go with a good read of the ice and some pretty decent skating ability.
Although he’s inked early on, though, it doesn’t seem likely that the Otters blue liner will stay with Toronto for the upcoming season. He’ll return to the major juniors, where he’s coming off a season with eight goals and 45 points in 61 games.
Dermott’s OHL club was lethal last season, but one very important piece of the club will be missing next year – that’s 2015 first overall pick Connor McDavid, who will almost certainly jump straight into the lineup with the Edmonton Oilers this upcoming season. There’s even the chance that the team’s second line centre, Dylan Strome, will leave the club as well – although the Arizona Coyotes (who selected Strome third overall) have made it clear that they don’t want to rush the forward, a strong showing at training camp could earn him a roster spot in the NHL anyways.
That’s not to say the Otters won’t have talent – suggesting that 2014-2015 rookie Alex DeBrincat won’t be able to dominate on his own would be pretty far off base – but Dermott won’t have quite the all-star cast supporting his offensive numbers next year.
For the Leafs, that’s going to be huge.
Dermott may find an offensive game at the NHL level, but his scouting reports have all shifted towards him being more of a two-way skater with offense-driving upside. It’s fair to assume some of that is being credited to playing with DeBrincat, McDavid, Nick Baptiste (a Buffalo Sabres prospect) and Strome.
Without anywhere from one to three of those four, though, Dermott will be tasked with replicating the points production he put up last year without the aid of McDavid at all – and potentially without aid from Strome, who should spend time with the Coyotes at the start of the year and could stay with them permanently. This gives the Leafs an opportunity to examine what Dermott will look like as an offense-driver using lower-calibre teammates – which should offer more depth into his potential offensive upside in the long run, something that TLN’s Jon Steitzer went over in depth shortly after the draft. His ability to shift into a leadership role will be important to consider as he enters his draft plus one year – in a similar manner to Dysin Mayo’s ascension into a leadership position with the Edmonton Oil Kings following their 2013-2014 Memorial Cup run, Dermott will be able to showcase his ability to both play well and make those around him better.
Of course, there’s still the question of why Mitch Marner hasn’t signed just yet – but while that still needs answering, it’s hard not to like the news being offered up with the Dermott signing alone.