With injuries taking their toll on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Travis Dermott has had to take on a tougher role and it should help him with his contract negotiations.
There were many storylines from Thursday’s win over the Florida Panthers that should provide some hope that the Toronto Maple Leafs can survive their unlucky run with injuries, one of them being the emergence of Travis Dermott.
For most of the season, the 23-year-old has had his struggles but at a time where the Leafs need him to elevate his game, he did exactly that going up against Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. The Panthers’ top line was held in check by Dermott and Justin Holl on Thursday which is not something people would have expected given how dominant they have been this season.
"“They did an excellent job,” head coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters after the game. “Today they’re matched up against the Barkov line and it’s the entire group doing a job against them, but I think that line ends up off the scoresheet and is minus-2 on the night. That was our greatest challenge going into the game: How you’re going to manage players of that level with the defencemen that we were missing.“Those guys did an excellent job, and our whole team did.”"
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There was a lot of excitement when Dermott made the jump to the NHL during the 2017-18 season because the team was finally seeing one of its homegrown defencemen making an impact. This season has been a tough one for the Newmarket, Ont., native after having off-season shoulder surgery and struggling to provide stability in the defensive zone.
Fortunately for Dermott, this next stretch with Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and Cody Ceci out should hopefully provide him with a chance to re-establish his value as a pending restricted free agent. Right now it would be tough to expect him to get a long-term deal and with Rasmus Sandin making the jump, you can bet there is pressure on Dermott leave an impression going into next season.
Seeing Dermott and Holl limit Florida’s top line should provide some stability and give the Leafs some serious decisions on how they should proceed with the lineup when they get their healthy bodies back.
Does Dermott move over to the right side to play with Rielly? Does Keefe keep Dermott and Holl together and consider other options? It will be a nice problem to have if things keep progressing the way they have been the past two games.
Of course, this is just one game and there will be some tough matchups against Tampa two more times, Boston, Florida, Carolina and Washington in March.
What did you think of Dermott’s play against the Panthers? How important will his play be going forward for the Leafs? Let us know in the comments below.