The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to build on their impressive 216-17 campaign. They were an upstart team that made the playoffs and took the powerhouse Washington Capitals to six games.
The Leafs have upgraded their team for the upcoming season. The additions of Patrick Marleau, Dominic Moore and Ron Hainsey should help propel the Buds to great heights. One spot that is still up for grabs is on the blueline. There are four prospective players who will all be vying to make the Leafs roster on opening night.
The defenseman was selected by the Leafs in second of round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The smooth-skating blueliner was drafted from the Erie Otters and now plays for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
It’s well known in the organization that Dermott is the most NHL ready defenseman that the Marlies have. He’s reliable, can play in all situations and is extremely tough to knock off the puck. He doesn’t have much flash to his game but he’s known to be a well-rounded and safe commodity.
Rielly on Travis Dermott: "He’s a very talented, mobile young defenceman. Any time you put that sentence together it’s very exciting."
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) August 11, 2017
The former Otter has been consistently getting better and better. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could make the Leafs opening night roster. One thing that could help Dermott’s cause would be performing well at the rookie tournament taking place September 8th-10th. If he wants to open some eyes and show he’s serious about earning a spot, that is a perfect place to start.
I’ll be the first to say that this one is a longshot that will most likely not happen. However, it’s always fun to speculate. The Leafs most recent first round pick, Liljegren is an ultra talented Swedish defenseman.
He fell all the way to pick 17 in large part because he had mono this past year. It caused him to try and rush back into action even though he wasn’t fully recovered. The Leafs were happy to snap up the young Swede with the pick and he could become a dangerous weapon on the blueline in the future.
He’s an excellent skater and passer who has great hockey sense. He’s an offensive-minded defenseman who has been impressing whenever he’s hit the ice this summer. Liljegren has spent the past two year’s playing against men in Sweden. It’s a move that can only help his development.
This year it appears that he will either be with the AHL’s Marlies or be sent back to Sweden for another year. The best thing for his development would be to stay in Toronto and learn with the Marlies under the tutelage of Sheldon Keefe. He could get used to the North American ice and the Leafs brass could keep an eye on him throughout the year.
And who knows? There could even be a call-up in the future.
Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman
Sticking with the theme of Swedes, Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman both have excellent shots at occupying the final spot on the Leafs blueline. Rosen is 23, and has suited up to play for Rögle BK and Växjö Lakers HC over the past few years. He’s coming off a year where he put up 19 points in 41 regular season games.
He’s a two-way defenseman and is solid in all aspects of the game. He’s a good prospect and was being courted by the Chicago Blackhawks before he chose to sign with Toronto.
Borgman is an interesting case. He’s the SHL’s reigning rookie of the year and put up 15 points in 45 games and added another ten in 14 playoff contests for HV71 Jonkoping. He likes to jump up into the rush, he’s got an excellent and accurate shot and he’s a good skater with a lot of upside.
Conventional thought shows that the Swedes probably have the inside track with Dermott not being far behind. It’s going to be a very interesting training camp and fans will be eagerly watching to see which player separates himself from the pack to take a run at the opening night roster spot.