We’re nearly into our top five Leafs prospects, but just outside that group is the newly-added Travis Dermott, Toronto’s second-round pick out of Erie in this pas draft. It should be noted right away that the difference between Dermott and the 4th/5th-ranked prospects on this list were minimal in terms of voting.
Given the Leafs traded down to select him, Dermott is an example of a pick we probably didn’t know too much about heading into the draft, but we definitely like what we’ve learned since.
Everything we see about Dermott points to him just being a solid, well-rounded defender at this point. He doesn’t appear to be weak in any area particularly, and he was able to produce at a high rate this past season on a good Erie team. I had a chance to watch him here in Ottawa when the Otters visited, and the main thing I took away was that he seemed to play beyond his age a little and didn’t have as much of that rawness you see in a lot of 17-year-olds’ games. A “heady” player, if you will.
Here’s what EliteProspects had to say in their Dermott profile:
“Doesn’t force plays or take a lot of chances; rather, he plays it simply, letting the game come to him. Decent physical game, but not overly physical as he can lose some size matchups. All-in-all, a two-way defenseman that makes smart, high-percentage decisions in all three zones.”
“Dermott’s an incredibly smart defender at both ends, but a return to the OHL will allow him to work on his ability to run the power play (particularly his shot), in addition to gaining confidence as a puck rusher. It will also allow him to continue to get stronger and gain confidence in using his body to separate forwards from the puck. Towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, he really started to blossom into a physical player and I think his intense nature in the defensive end will make him one of the league’s elite at his position next year. I also think he’s a strong candidate to wear the ‘C” for Erie, taking over for McDavid. I think he finishes in the top 5 of defensive scoring next year.”
It seems as though Dermott has the smarts defensively but still has some untapped offensive potential he’ll look to realize this upcoming season. Don’t be fooled though, his output this past year was top-notch.
Dermott’s regular season totals are impressive, but if we look at his playoffs, his production took a nice jump with 17 points in 19 games before the Otters were knocked off by the Generals for the OHL crown.
In terms of points-per-game, Dermott, at 0.74, ranked 13th among OHL defencemen in the regular season. Looking at just draft-eligibles, however, he was fourth behind only Mitchell Vande Sompel, Rasmus Andersson, and Vince Dunn in this regard (from CHLStats.com). If we include his postseason run, Dermott rang in with 62 points in 80 games, or 0.78 ppg.
Using the Prospect Cohort Success (PCS) tool to get a quick look at how Dermott’s attributes compare with those successful in making the NHL, his percentage of reaching 200 games is 31%. That might seem a little low, but it’s actually a number that ranks him among the top picks from the CHL, as Shawn Reis noted when he took a look at the Leafs’ 2015 draft class last month.
A look ahead
Erie have a few of their blue-liners moving on this summer, so Dermott should be the true go-to guy back there this upcoming season. As we noted above, he seemed to take a nice step forward in the later parts of last season and into the playoffs, so he obviously will want to jump out of the gate with that sort of production this fall.
In terms of actually pinpointing what kind of output we might expect looking ahead, if you look near the top of the OHL for scoring by defencemen, the top-five cutoff was 0.96 for Andersson this past season. That’s probably the group Dermott wants to break into, but it’s a high bar no doubt.
I’ve said a couple times that I sort of see Dermott as almost a reset on Stuart Percy. [Not that Percy is a poor prospect, he’s just been de-railed a little by injuries and it’s tough to get a read on him at this point.]
But when it comes to output, Dermott’s draft-eligible season is actually more impressive than Percy’s in his draft-plus-one, so the expectations should be higher. And for that reason he finds himself nearly in the top five of a strong Leafs prospect pool.