After trading back twice in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally made their second pick of the draft by selecting Erie Otters defenceman Travis Dermott. Entering his third year in the organization, Dermott has developed into a potential NHL defenceman as soon as next season.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Travis Dermott
After a solid final OHL season in which he helped the Otters reach the Western Conference Finals, Dermott joined the Toronto Marlies to begin his professional career.
Entering the 2016-17 American Hockey League season, the Marlies seemed pretty full on the blueline. Coming into the fold with Dermott was fellow rookie Andrew Nielsen, while Andrew Campbell, Justin Holl, Rinat Valiev, and Viktor Loov all received ice-time in 2015-16. That’s seven names for six positions, not even including the depth players the Marlies had on AHL contracts.
It was going to be a challenge to earn minutes. Dermott started the season hot, recording five assists in seven games out of the gate. The Marlies were doing well, posting a 6-1-0 record in that time. However, on October 29, Dermott suffered an ankle injury that would keep him out of the lineup for six weeks.
Fighting for Minutes
Upon return, Dermott found his position altered. Instead of featuring in the top four as well as the top power play unit, he now found himself paired with Viktor Loov on the bottom pairing and the penalty kill. After an impressive start, Dermott had to fight his way back up the lineup.
As Dermott fought for more minutes, the Leafs made a move on February 18 to free up some room. Traded to the New Jersey Devils was Dermott’s old partner, Viktor Loov. In return, Toronto received much-needed centre depth in Sergey Kalinin.
At season’s end, Travis Dermott scored 24 points in 59 games, registering 60 PIM and finishing a plus-nine as well. Even with six weeks missed due to injury, Dermott finished second on the team in defensive scoring, only behind fellow rookie Andrew Nielsen.
In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Dermott was quiet offensively, with just five points in 11 games. The Marlies run came to an end in the Eastern Division Finals, losing in seven games to eventual finalists, the Syracuse Crunch.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 196 lbs
NHL Draft: Second Round, 34th Overall in 2015 by Toronto
Contract (via CapFriendly)
After sliding twice, Travis Dermott’s entry level contract will finally kick in this season. He received a signing bonus of $92,500 on July 1 and will make a base salary of $832,500 this season if he plays in the NHL. If not, he will make $70,000 in the minors.
After sliding twice, Dermott has a bit of a wonky cap hit of $863,333. Although he was a second round pick, Dermott signed his entry level contract right after the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Signing so quickly after being drafted meant no performance bonuses, which could be an intriguing note come October.
With no performance bonuses, Dermott could be in line for an NHL gig this fall. The Leafs have an open position on their bottom pairing on the left side, which could go to a number of players.
Players with a shot at the job include Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman, Andrew Nielsen, and Rinat Valiev. While he may be a favourable option because of his contract, is Dermott really NHL ready?
Although he is much further along in his defensive development than Nielsen, Dermott could use more time in the AHL to further his game. His errors and mistakes may not be as egregious as Nielsen’s, but the Leafs have stated time after time that they won’t rush prospects. As such, it may be a little longer than this October before we see Travis Dermott in the Leafs uniform full time.
If Dermott has a good camp, however, he could get a look. He doesn’t require waivers and could easily start the season in the NHL with the Maple Leafs before being sent back down if Toronto believes he isn’t ready. Think of the Stuart Percy situation to start the 2014-15 season, when the former Mississauga defenceman played nine games at the beginning of the year.
While Dermott may not be a Leafs defenceman to start this season, the former Erie Otter is very much in their plans. Last spring, general manager Lou Lamoriello talked about the Marlies, saying “I think we’ve got one or two players in the minors that we’re going to take a real good look at, one in particular.”
While we will find out this fall if Travis Dermott is NHL ready, we know he will wear the blue and white in the NHL sometime soon.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images