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What goes down must come up: Dermott and Gauthier called back up

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After a weekend spent in a warmer climate, the Leafs add back their two prospects, but what’s that number on Dermott?

Columbus Blue Jackets v Toronto Maple Leafs
We’ll just mentally draw in a 2 in front of that 3.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

As the Leafs went off on their bye week, they sent Travis Dermott and Frederik Gauthier down to the Marlies where they got to go south too. They just had to play hockey when they got there. All in all, that’s likely better for both players, so we shouldn’t feel too sad for them. They got two wins out of it too.

With the break over, and the Maple Leafs getting ready to welcome the St. Louis Blues tomorrow, it’s all hands on deck at practice today, including our two travellers.

The only strange part is this:

In five games with the Leafs so far, Gauthier has played mostly with Connor Brown and Matt Martin, and saw his ice time dwindle to very little as the Leafs struggled in close games. He also played on a line with Zach Hyman and Leo Komarov that came out post power play against the other team’s post PK line of forwards ready to roll. That line was hopelessly caved in, leading to the interesting effect of Gauthier showing negative shot differentials for those five games, while Martin has positive ones.

Gauthier played a small amount of PK as well, while at even strength he faced more fourth lines than anything else, which is normal for the Leafs fourth line. They never face difficult competition unless it’s by accident.

In just two games with the Leafs, one spent with Jake Gardiner and one with Roman Polak, Dermott has looked exciting, but he’s not yet been tested. He’s not been played against top forwards at all, and he’s avoided the top defensive pairs of the other teams as well. He’s also not benefited from the absolute best of the Leafs forwards in the offensive zone either. This is normal for rookie defenders. There is nothing gained by dumping him in the deep end.

He’s had positive shot differentials in those two easy starts, and he’s got one secondary assist that was fairly generously doled out.

It’s way too soon to tell how he’ll do with even the level of difficulty Andreas Borgman faces, but the Leafs cannot continue sheltering Borgman, Dermott and Polak with Nikita Zaitsev out of the lineup. Neither Dermott nor Borgman play any special teams time beyond an occasional PK shift for Borgman, so we should expect to see one of the two at most in the future, unless the competition is very weak.

Competition information is from HockeyViz, and line combinations and shot differentials are from HockeyViz and Natural Stat Trick.