Well, there are two notable names left in the Leafs prospects list, and while it was pretty obvious that our #1 pick would be #1, I’ll save that for tomorrow. For now, here’s our #2 pick, Travis Dermott.
Here’s a table showing how the TLN staff made their rankings:
|2ND||Ryan F., Megan, Ryan H., Scott, Evan, Hayley|
|3RD||Adam, Brayden, Jon, Dylan, Bobby|
As you can see, it was pretty even between 2nd and 3rd for Dermott (except for Shawn, shame him). The big difference for Dermott is that the 2nd place votes not on him were split between Bracco, Brooks, and Grundstrom.
Travis Dermott was the Leafs 2nd round pick in the 2015 NHL draft, at 34th overall, while playing for the Erie Otters in the OHL. He played one more year in the OHL in 2015-16, but finished the season with the Marlies when Erie was eliminated. This previous season was his first full professional season with the Marlies, although he has yet to play a game in the NHL yet.
Dermott is 5’11” and weighs in at 200 lbs, so he certainly isn’t a slouch in the size department, but also not too big that it holds him back from the rest of his game.
Dermott is currently on an ELC worth $863,333. Despite already playing a season in pro, he still has three years left on it, as the contract has slid to the current season.
Travis Dermott’s biggest feature is his solid two-way game, which showed in his first professional season of hockey. While he might not have the high point totals of Andrew Nielsen, or the high ceiling of Timothy Liljegren, his game is probably the most NHL ready at this point amongst the defensive prospects in the Leafs system.
However, that doesn’t mean he’s bad offensively either. In his draft year, he finished tied for 10th in scoring amongst defensemen with 45 points, and the year after answered all the doubters that thought it was the McDavid effect, tying for 9th with 43 points. In his rookie season in the AHL, he finished 12th in rookie defensive scoring with 24 points.
At this point, Dermott’s biggest drawback is the unknown. He appears to have proven himself at the AHL level, so it’s just a matter of if this translates to the NHL. Until he gets playing time, it’ll be hard to get a good read as to what he’ll become.
In 2013, Dermott began his OHL career with the Erie Otters. Despite the illusion that he was benefiting from the McDavid effect, he had no issue transitioning the year after McDavid left in 2015-16. He also played in the World Juniors that year, with two assists in five games. Last season, he made the jump to professional hockey almost seamlessly, and has the most NHL ready game amongst most Leafs prospects.
The most notable stat for Dermott is his ability to show up in the playoffs (also known as his increase in points per game). It seems no matter what league, his production jumps in the playoffs, whether it be OJHL (0.28 in the regular season to 0.63 in the playoffs), OHL (0.65 to 0.77), or AHL (0.41 to 0.42). Whether it’s coincidence or not, it’s something to take note of.
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At this point, Dermott’s only options are the AHL and NHL, which means that he’ll have to really impress to make the team. The situation seems set up right, as the team has an opening on the bottom pair (unless they plan to fill it with Martin Marincin full time), but he also has a decent amount of competition for it as well (Rosen, Borgman, Liljegren, and Holl) so that he won’t get handed the role if he isn’t ready.
So, a lot of it will depend on his summer, and how much he prepared himself for the season. If he’s ready, he’ll show up to training camp, impress Babcock, and earn a role on the starting lineup for game one. If not, he’s at worst an injury call up during the season, since the Leafs will probably be faced with that situation down the road. Regardless, he will certainly get his chance, it’s just his job to take it.
There is another obstacle in his way, that being Timothy Liljegren. If Liljegren is even or better, he probably gets the job, due to the higher priority of being drafted higher, even if it’s only for the start. That’s not a bad thing from a Leafs perspective, as that just means they have two young NHL ready defensemen in the system, but it is an obstacle in Dermott’s way, but one he could certainly overcome.
While there was some doubt with his selection (especially since Sebastian Aho was selected right after him), Dermott has proven to be far from a disappointment. At just the age of 20, he’s emerged as a defenseman who’s all-around game may or may not be NHL ready. With only five defensemen on the Leafs with guaranteed spots (barring a last minute Roman Polak signing), the opening is there, it’s just a matter of if Dermott is ready. However, the future bodes well for him, because even if he doesn’t make it out of training camp, his career is far from over.
Overall, he’s proven to be an excellent defenseman at both ends of the ice at every level thus far, it’s just a matter of if he can make that final step or not. While I wouldn’t expect him to crack the top pair anytime soon, if at all, but he could certainly be a top four defenseman in the NHL for a good portion of his career.