Is Travis Dermott NHL Ready?

Much hoopla has been made of the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ prospect pool. Once a team with bare cupboards, the Leafs have used the last few NHL drafts to stock up and amass a talented prospect pool that is the envy of most teams.

Good drafting is most obviously exemplified in the big three rookies, William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews. All were drafted and developed by the club and are playing a prominent role this season.

Others include Connor Brown, Josh Leivo and Frederik Gauthier. On the defensive side of the puck, Morgan Rielly, who was selected fifth overall in 2012, remains the best-drafted Leaf to patrol the blueline.

It’s no secret that the Leafs are looking for blueline help. There are a few ways to approach this particular situation. The first would be to look outside the organization. Kevin Shattenkirk, for the right term and price, could be a good fit. I also recently wrote about how Karl Alzner could be a valuable signing this summer.

The other option is to look within the organization at the prospects to see if any have developed to the point that they would be helpful next year. Travis Dermott of the Marlies could be that player.

The 411 on Dermott

The Leafs drafted Dermott in the second round, 34th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He started his career with the Newmarket Hurricanes of the OJHL before making the jump to the OHL to play for the Erie Otters. He spent three years with the Otters and was able to amass 116 points in 179 games.

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He had an extremely productive 2015-16 season where he signed an entry-level deal with the Leafs,  had a deep playoff run with Erie, and appeared in a playoff game for the Toronto Marlies.

Dermott is seen as an offensive defenseman who uses his skating and smarts to be effective, particularly on the power play. The former Hurricane is also smart defensively and plays positionally sound. He also has a physical edge to his game and isn’t afraid to step up and lay a big hit on his opponents.

Accelerated Timeline?

Dermott is skating for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies this season. He’s progressing well and is learning how to be an everyday defender. He has three goals and 17 points in 37 games this season for the baby Leafs.

Dermott’s long-term projection is promising for fans of the Leafs. His smooth-skating will be his most valuable asset as he looks to anchor the attack as well as shut down the scoring threats of the timeline to make the NHL is still up in the air.

His timeline to make the NHL is still up in the air. The Leafs could look to leave him in the AHL for more seasoning. That would give him a chance to learn the game against professionals while growing stronger and more confident in his skills.

The Maple Leafs are expected to lose a couple of defensemen this summer, as Roman Polak and Matt Hunwick are the most likely candidates not to be re-signed. If Dermott has a strong rest of the season and a good preseason to the 2017-18 season, there might be a spot available for him next season.

The game has changed. It’s no longer about the big, slow and lumbering type of players. Now, it’s all about skating and skill. Dermott is a prime example of the type of player who could not only survive, but thrive in that type of environment. If his development continues on pace, Dermott will most likely see NHL action sooner rather than later.