After a busy late first round, the Leafs slipped back in the 2015 NHL Draft to select Erie's Travis Dermott, a mobile, effective, puck-moving defensemen.
Dermott surged up the 2015 NHL Draft rankings on a strong Otters team, anchoring a powerplay with top picks Connor McDavid, Nicholas Baptiste and Dylan Strome.
In 61 games with the Otters, Dermott registered 45 points, including 8 goals, before adding 17 points in 20 playoff games.
Dermott's biggest asset, his smarts, allows him to manage both special teams effectively. And despite not having a towering frame, Dermott's thick build aids him in puck battles.
Another asset, his gap control, allows him to effectively manage forwards with stronger footspeed than him.
Dermott will almost certainly return to Erie in 2015-2016 to prove his production wasn't dependent on the powerful Otters offence.
The pick comes after the Leafs passed on my 12th ranked prospect, Travis Konecny, when the Flyers moved in to grab him with Toronto's original 24th overall pick.
In his own right, Dermott was still Erie's best defensemen this season, logging huge minutes. Without McDavid in the lineup, Dermott registered 14 points in 21 games this season. His poise with the puck is an asset that's rare in young defenders who too commonly rush plays or passes under pressure.
Dermott, unafraid to turn the puck the other way and wait for his play to develop, uses a wide stride and a slow tempo to break down defensive systems and find his teammates in lanes.
Dermott's 0.74 points per game this season ranked him fourth among draft eligible OHL defensemen, behind Mitchell Vande Sompel, Rasmus Andersson and Vince Dunn. Of Dermott's 45 points, 23 came at even strength.
In order to make the selection, the Leafs past up on several of my top ranked players with McKeen's Hockey, siding for Dermott over Oliver Kylington (14), Daniel Sprong (16), Jeremy Bracco (22) and Jansen Harkins (24), among others.
Asked if he had any advice for NHL defensemen on stopping McDavid?
“Pffffttttt, not much you can do."