The NHL Draft is always known for those selected at the top.
But the spectacle of the draft goes way beyond just the 1st round. The teams that consistently make the playoffs are the ones who can find good players later in the draft.
What do Kris Letang, Jonathan Quick, and Ben Bishop all have in common? They were each taken in the 3rd round of the 2005 NHL draft. Pretty good players, right?
And that’s not all. Every year, players taken late become stars. In the same draft, Keith Yandle went in the 4th round. And Patric Hornqvist went as the 230th and last pick of that draft, as a compensatory pick. In 2007, Jamie Benn went in Round 5. In 2008, the Blue Jackets got current roster players in Rounds 5 and 6, by selecting Matt Calvert, and then Cam Atkinson. The Sharks just after that selected Tommy Wingels. Every pick matters!
The above players would be classified as steals. They were all taken late in the NHL draft, but have developed into good players. This separates the elite teams from just the good teams.
Who Will Be The Steal Of This NHL Draft?
The Erie Otters have had a tremendous season. They are currently competing in the OHL Western Conference Finals against the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. All of the attention on the Otters goes to players like Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Nick Baptiste, and Alex DeBrincat among others.
But the Otters have a player on their roster that is also draft eligible, just like McDavid and Strome, but is not nearly getting the attention he deserves. The 4 names that I mentioned all are a part of the Otters vaunted power play unit. The 5th member of that unit will be the steal of this NHL draft. He is currently ranked 46th among North American skaters. That’s way too low.
This player is the quarterback of the Otters power play, who finished the regular season at over 31%. He is also considered one of the best 2-way defenseman in the OHL. Some, myself included, believe he is the best 2-way defenseman. He has a knack for scoring, but can also shut you down. He’s good at everything. Who is he? His name is Travis Dermott.
Travis Dermott’s Profile
Dermott hails from the same town as one Connor McDavid. That’s a pretty good influence to start out with. But just take a quick look at Dermott’s numbers. In 61 games, he finished with 8 goals, 45 assists, and was a +23.
His offensive prowess is especially seen on that power play. For most of the season, he was the only defenseman on that unit. He would camp out at center point, and run the show. Anytime the puck was close to leaving the zone, he had the speed to keep the puck in more often than not. Not only would he keep it in, he would find a teammate for another scoring chance.
If they left Dermott open, he would shoot lasers from the point. It’s not an overwhelming shot, but it’s an effective one. His shot is very dangerous. Players like DeBrincat, Strome, and McDavid would be in front of the net causing havoc. Dermott would also pinch when needed. He has a good sense of what’s expected of him.
Defensively, he is a good decision maker. He is excellent at getting the puck up the ice. He can also play defense in multiple ways. He can knock you off the puck, or speed past you. He is also very responsible. He keeps things simple.
The one knock on him is his size. He is currently listed at 5’11” and 197 pounds. Don’t let that fool you at all. He will work his way to around 6 foot and about 210-215 pounds. He will have the size needed for the NHL level.
To me, the best part of Travis Dermott is his personality. He handles the media extremely well, and is very charismatic. I’ve never walked away from an interview with him disappointed. He will tell you how it is. He rubs off on his teammates. You can usually find him with a smile on his face. He is a positive influence in the room.
Many of the mocks I’ve seen have Dermott going in either the 2nd or 3rd round. Given that he brings the tools of a 1st rounder, getting him will be a steal. The team that manages to draft him becomes a winner on draft day. When you can play both ends of the ice and quarterback a power play, you will be good for a long time. Want to win at the NHL draft? Pick the player that Connor McDavid says is “an amazing player.” Pick Travis Dermott.
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I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.