Barrie isn’t the only one that has a lot on the line this season as Dermott is a pending restricted free agent and let’s just say things haven’t been going his way.
Starting the season recovering from shoulder surgery and missed the first month as a result. It’s only fair that the 22-year-old be given time to get himself back into game shape which he has certainly been afforded.
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Now more than ever, Dermott needs to step up his game with Morgan Rielly out of the lineup. While he hasn’t been expected to replace the offensive production the team is missing with Rielly gone, defensively he has had to deal with tougher matchups.
His possession numbers have not been the problem during this stretch with Muzzin and Rielly out of the lineup but he’s been guilty of allowing too many high-danger scoring chances. He leads the Leafs in high-danger goals against (six) and fifth in high-danger scoring chances allowed (23).
When asked about how the Leafs would get through the injuries to two of his more important defencemen, Keefe admitted that Dermott would have to step up and pitch in more than he had been up until this stretch.
What made Dermott such an effective player when he joined the team during the 2017-18 season was his willingness to be physical and his gap control in the defensive zone. Maybe he can come out strong following the all-star break and for the Leafs’ sake, they better hope he can.
If not, expect the Leafs to give Rasmus Sandin more responsibility which is probably something they weren’t anticipating at this point of the season.