A day after the Stanley Cup was awarded, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that they had signed Travis Dermott to a two-year contract worth $1.5 million per season. The contract came as a surprise to most of us as Dermott was getting some real money with term after a season where he was all but supplanted by Rasmus Sandin.
In a normal season, Dermott would enter October as the Leafs sixth, maybe even seventh defenseman, and he’s getting $1.5 million? What gives?
Well, in short, the Expansion Draft. The Leafs are set to lose one player from their team, most likely their fourth or fifth defenseman, or Alex Kerfoot if they’re feeling really spicy. Dermott’s extension, which echos the final two years of Justin Holl’s contract, feels like preparation for that event.
To me, the Leafs going 4/4/1 feels out of the question. Out of Kerfoot, Holl, and Dermott, Kerfoot has the most actionable trade value at the moment. For that reason, it would be difficult to give him up for nothing. Between Holl and Dermott the Leafs, but more so the Kraken, have a choice. Pick one defenseman and leave the other in Toronto. That’s my guess for how this is going to go down. One of Holl or Dermott is going to Seattle and the other will step back in next to Jake Muzzin, or fight the younger Sandin for a prominent role in the top-four.
Between Holl and Dermott, the Leafs have two very different defensemen that provide different things for the Leafs. Holl has been Muzzin’s partner for a few years now and is solidly in that spot. He doesn’t make Muzzin and the pair better, but the Leafs could do much worse. In Dermott, the Leafs have a defenseman they can’t trust in the top four, who’s stereotype is as an offensive defenseman, but his results show low-event, boring hockey in both directions. A result of lots of time skating with the bottom six, I’m sure.
Travis Dermott (2×1.5m extension with Toronto) is a shutdown defender. pic.twitter.com/XVTrxuu8SG— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) July 8, 2021
The Leafs probably want to keep Holl, but they don’t get to choose who stays, that’s up to GM Ron Francis and head coach Dave Hakstol in Seattle. I think the Kraken prefer Dermott for the reasons that he has more offensive upside that can be unlocked with different deployment and linemates, he’s younger, and there’s no stakes if this big swing ends in a flyout. At the very least there’s fewer stakes than in Toronto where the team is desperate to win now.
Who do the Leafs lose in the Expansion Draft?
Talking about Dermott the player and Dermott the person, it’s going to suck to see him go. He’s a good player and a good person who has always done what’s best for the team, whether that’s in the AHL during a very special year, or in the NHL getting scratched for Sandin. He didn’t rock the boat, which is all Hockey Men ever want.
He is a second round pick that was deemed a success, but didn’t quite meet the expectations thrust upon him. By the way, the last Leafs player gone during Expansion was a third round pick so that part isn’t the end of the world. Maybe he’ll get closer to those goals on a new team with a stronger right side than left side. Or maybe he sticks around in Toronto, wins himself a spot on the second pair and we all live happily ever after.
Also, I haven’t said this in a while, but I really wish he had kept #3. It was a great number on him.
Various Leafs and Branches
Dermott Re-Signs! | by: Katya
Seattle Expansion Draft Process and Timeline | by: Katya
2021 NHL Draft Profile: Samu Salminen | by: Brigs
How Much Is Your NHL Fanbase Allowed To Complain? | by: Fulemin
Dermott wasn’t given any assurances about the Expansion Draft, so everything is still on the table.
Travis Dermott on whether he got any assurances from #Leafs regarding the expansion draft:— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) July 8, 2021
"It's a possibility [I'll be exposed]. Nothing was assured that I wasn't going anywhere, that's for sure."
Hey, Kyle! Let’s go get a goalie!
Hearing that teams are calling the Panthers on pending UFA G Chris Driedger, perhaps jump ahead of the UFA market by trading for his rights ahead of time. But there's also the Seattle factor to consider. Do the Kraken want him as part of expansion? Intriguing situation.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 8, 2021
Rick Tocchet is looking for a job after losing the bench in Arizona.
@RealKyper tells #WritersBloc there's some talk about the Leafs having interest in adding Rick Tocchet to the coaching staff.— Alex Seixeiro (@alexfan590) July 8, 2021
Nikita Kucherov facetimed his idol after winning the Stanley Cup. Amazing.
i was at dinner with my dad yesterday & he got an ft call from a random number. he picks it up & it’s nikita kucherov with the stanley cup. kuch shouts “ты мой кумир, спасибо” about 6 times. the translation of that is “you’re my idol, thank you”. coolest thing witnessed— Igor Larionov II (@Igor_LarionovII) July 8, 2021
Kucherov took a lot of crap this year, and he’s happily rubbing it in everyone’s faces.
Nikita is sending kind regards to Montréal Canadiens fans! #WeAreGoldStar! pic.twitter.com/jan0p0GDr6— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) July 8, 2021