The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to take on the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday to open the 2021-22 NHL season. The team will be without Auston Matthews for at least a week and Ilya Mikheyev for likely two months. They also recently lost Adam Brooks to the waiver wire after the Canadiens scooped him up. Considering the makeup of the roster, defenseman Travis Dermott has become a prime trade candidate.
Dermott, who is 24 and signed a two-year contract during the offseason worth $1.5 million per season, barely made the team but earned a spot on the bottom defensive pairing. He will likely dress in the home opener on Wednesday alongside Rasmus Sandin; however, Dermott’s the one defenseman who’s on a very short leash. The team hasn’t been thrilled with his game in the last couple of seasons and expects more from the Newmarket, Ontario native.
Last season, Dermott played 51 games and only recorded six points. He doesn’t get any time on the power play and that’s not going to change this season with Morgan Rielly and Sandin already set in stone on special teams.
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The problem with Dermott is that he’s offensive-minded yet not offensively gifted enough to be a special teams threat. The Maple Leafs have made it loud and clear that Dermott must take the next step this season, or their relationship is over.
Maple Leafs Will Move Dermott for a Forward
With the nagging injury to Matthews, Mikheyev’s broken thumb, and Brooks heading to the rival Canadiens, the Maple Leafs could use another NHL-proven forward. Toronto’s lucky to have players like Alexander Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall who can slide from the wing to center or vice versa. But general manager Kyle Dubas will be working the phones early on to see what type of deals are out there, and Dermott’s name will likely be mentioned in most of those talks.
Liljegren Ready to Shine
Toronto was ecstatic to land Timothy Liljegren at 17th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. Mobile right-shot defensemen who can skate are hard to find. He’s been a work in progress and has battled some untimely injuries, but make no mistake about it, now is the time for Liljegren.
Liljegren will start the season as the seventh defenseman who will be on the prowl to get into the lineup. Paired with Sandin, the two appear to be the future of the Maple Leafs’ defence, and the future could be now. Liljegren put up 11 points in 21 games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League last season. While some offence would be nice, the coaching staff will simply want him to be sound defensively, make the right reads, and only take chances when they are warranted. It’s a big season for Liljegren, and a Dermott trade could promote him to a regular NHLer.
Dermott Trade Should Be Easy
Dermott is signed for this season and next, which should make him attractive on the trade market. With a $1.5 million cap hit, the money shouldn’t be an issue either. A couple of teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars don’t have a ton of defensemen signed with term, so look for those two teams to be in the conversation for Dermott. The Maple Leafs will want a versatile forward in return, who can play both the wing and at center if needed.
Management will likely see how the first two weeks go, monitor how Matthews’ wrist is progressing and evaluate from there. If they decide they need some more help up front, look for them to make a trade, likely including Dermott.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can find Seney also contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween