Travis Dermott’s play not going unnoticed by Maple Leafs

TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Travis Dermott
TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Travis Dermott /

Rookie defenceman Travis Dermott has opened some eyes in his first two games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and it has not gone unnoticed by people in the organization.

Last season, the emergence of the rookie forwards was the big story for the Toronto Maple Leafs and now, a lot of attention the past two games has been on the play of Travis Dermott.

The rookie defenceman made his NHL debut in a win against the Vancouver Canucks, then got bumped up to the top four in only his second game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite a small sample size, it is still encouraging because Dermott’s stock has been trending upward since last season with the Toronto Marlies.

GM Lou Lamoriello joined Sportsnet‘s Prime Time Sports to talk about the progress of the team this season and and was asked about the future of the 21-year-old defenceman going forward.

“He certainly has played well over the last two games, but we’ve got seven defencemen here right now and we’ve got one of (our) mainstay top-four is injured so we’ll take this a game at a time, see how things transpire,” Lamoriello said of his rookie defenceman to Arash Madani and John Shannon: “Our coaching staff will make the decision about who plays, but he’s got a bright future.”

This is not the first time we have heard Lamoriello talk about Dermott as he hinted back in May that a particular defenceman from the Marlies could make a case for a spot with the Leafs. Obviously things changed with the addition of Andreas Borgman and bringing back Roman Polak, but all Dermott needed was a chance to prove he was on the right path.

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Looking back on when Dermott was selected 34th overall in the 2015 draft, there were some wondering where his game could potentially evolve into. Head coach Mike Babcock appears to be impressed with what he brings to the table.

“In an ideal world he’d be a right-hand shot and he would have been on the team all year,” said Babcock to the media.

“What can he evolve into? You always hope every guy you bring in here is going to play in your top four, going to play 22 minutes a night, be safe defensively and move the puck. That’s what you’re hoping for.”

Lamoriello mentioned he would rather be patient and not rush a player in his development and that is why Dermott could be sent down when the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a bye. It happened with William Nylander when he was with the Marlies to start the 2015-16 season, before playing 22 games with the Leafs to end the season.

If there are any parts of his game Dermott still needs to sort out, the team feels like the best place to work on that is in the minors where a player can make a mistake and not have it magnified as much.

Seeing a defenceman the team drafted and developed show progress has been hard to come. Going forward it will be hard to convince people the Newmarket native does not deserve a chance to stick with in the NHL. The Leafs realize it and frankly are probably thrilled about it.

Next: Leafs fall apart late and lose in overtime

What do you think should happen with Dermott going forward with the Toronto Maple Leafs? Let us know in the comments below.