Leafs: Travis Dermott’s play shows potential from internal improvements

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

Rookie defenceman Travis Dermott has certainly made an impression on the Toronto Maple Leafs and is not showing any sign of slowing down.

With the very recent performances of Travis Dermott and Justin Holl, the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ message to remain patient and allow prospects to develop continues to be challenged.

The Leafs’ back end is the lamentable portion of this team. Partner that with a fan base begging for a deep playoff run, more rooted in proving the amped up “rebuild” is not a flash in the pan. Many are jumping on the “win-now” bandwagon.

With the performance of Dermott and Holl, the former looking more and more like the real deal with each game – albeit still very early in his career, you can justify this viewpoint.

But let us take a step back and remember the lean years. Those years that every young prospect was shipped out of town in order to bring in what was perceived as immediate help (i.e. Alex Steen for Lee Stempniak; sorry for bringing it up).

This becomes especially important at the trade deadline where teams will look to add draft picks and prospects. The strength of the Leafs has been their depth and once the top tier players earn their larger paydays, that is where their depth will get tested.

There is a wealth of prospects in the system, many who are showing they are capable of taking that next step, which is making Leafs Nation drool with possibility.

However, while the young players continue to knock on the door the team is thinking long-term, so that means making tough choices about which players have to stay longer in the minors.

The Leafs appear to be a season or two away from challenging for the Stanley Cup Final on a consistent basis. So letting these young players develop even further, instead of taking a one or two-year attempt at the Stanley Cup is the more desirable option.

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In the long run, the goal the organization has preached is the idea of being a contender year after year.

The great problem the Leafs have right now is that with questions we have this coming offseason with players like James van Riemsdyk, Leo Komarov and Tyler Bozak, perhaps letting them walk is not entirely a bad thing if the demand is too high. Now, van Riemsdyk is a player people would re-sign in a heartbeat if the rumour of $6 million for six years is true.

But are there players that would be ready to fill the roles of Bozak and Komarov? Can those needs be addressed internally?

Babcock has mentioned many times in his tenure here that he wants to create an environment where there is competition for jobs. Just ask Josh Leivo how tough it is.

The prospects are not just knocking on the door, the are blowing right through it. Sheldon Keefe is doing a great job at getting and keeping them NHL-ready on the farm. Although patience is a virtue, they won’t want to wait too long.

That is why patience is something the organization continues to preach, even though Dermott continues to make that message hard for Leafs Nation to comprehend.

Next: Team remains interested in Chris Tanev

Leafs fans should quell the desire to get things done now at the risk of watching one of our youngsters lift the cup down the road with another team. Let’s bring them up here and watch them grow into the veteran players we have always coveted.