It’s well-known that the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to acquire some help and add a top-four defenseman ahead of the March 21st trade deadline.
It has been rumoured for some time that defenseman Travis Dermott could be a potential trade asset. The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta recently reported that the 25-year-old is a target that teams could be interested in.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott (AP Photo/John Locher)
Dermott carries a very team friendly cap hit at $1.5 million for next season, something that would instantly garner attention. This season, Dermott has struggled to find his place on the team and with the emergence of Timothy Liljegren, Dermott’s definitely on the outside looking in. He’s been stagnant in terms of his position on the roster and hasn’t made the jump out of that third pairing spot. As a result, a change of scenery might help and bringing in a veteran type of player could be on the horizon. Here are some potential landing spots for Dermott.
New York Islanders
Early on in the season, the New York Islanders dealt with a lot of injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak. Elliotte Friedman mentioned on The Jeff Marek Show back in November that general manager Lou Lamoriello was looking at making a move to add a young defenseman with term (15:55 mark).
Related: Maple Leafs Daily Download
The Athletic’s Arthur Staple, has brought up Dermott’s name as he does fit the bill as to what they were looking for. Even though they might be well out of a playoff spot, it’s possible that a deal could still be done as both sides have something the other is looking for.
The Maple Leafs are looking for a defenseman that could provide some stability in the top-four and Scott Mayfield could be that player. He’s under contract for another season at $1.45 million, just under what Dermott is currently making. Mayfield’s underlying numbers don’t jump off the page, but he is fifth on the team with 48.97 Corsi For percentage (minimum 300 minutes at five-on-five). He also has a respectable expected goals for percentage of 51.38.
What makes Mayfield even more appealing is his ability to create chances off the forecheck, seeing as that was a staple for the Islanders as a team. In 2020-21, he averaged about 11 shots off the forecheck and three shots off the rush. While he’s known as a defensive specialist, getting into the lanes blocking shots and being a physical presence, that underrated aspect could be a reason why the Maple Leafs might be in on him.
Scott Mayfield shot generation from forecheck and rush 2020-21 courtesy of Corey Sznajder’s Public Tableau
If both sides want to work something out Mayfield and Dermott could be the price for the Islanders and the return being Mayfield and possibly a second or third-round pick for the Maple Leafs. It would be great to get that kind of return for Dermott as he has good puck-moving skills and the ability to play both the left and right side.
Given how the Arizona Coyotes are going to be sellers and take on contracts for assets, why not give them one with a good contract in the process with Dermott? They’re definitely going to be getting large returns on players like Phil Kessel and Jakob Chychrun if they move them before the deadline as they’re already planning for the future.
They’re also going to have to fill roster spots next season as they have a number of pending restricted and unrestricted free agents. They’re in a similar situation like last off-season, taking on contracts from the Vancouver Canucks in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland deal.
With Dermott, he could be a target to bring in and fill up a spot on their defense during the rebuild. He would be an ideal candidate to get a chance at consistent top-four minutes. The Coyotes have a number of draft picks at their disposal and if the Maple Leafs are able to get a second and a fourth-round pick for Dermott that could definitely be something to consider.
Ilya Lyubushkin, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Could the Maple Leafs also bring in another depth defender? It’s very possible. Ilya Lyubushkin could be a player that can round out the bottom pairing for them given his ability to play a menacing shut-down role. If Liljegren continues to play well, he can move up to the second-pairing and Justin Holl could be the seventh defenseman, if general manager Kyle Dubas decides to keep him.
While the first two teams focus primarily on trying to address the defensive depth of the Maple Leafs, if there is a forward that they should look to target, it’s Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Hagel could be worth keeping an eye on.
On the latest Daily Faceoff Rundown, Frank Seravalli talks about teams in a playoff spot looking to make similar deals the Tampa Bay Lightning made in bringing players like Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. Both players had term and were key factors in a depth role for the them winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Lightning gave up a first-round pick and a prospect for Goodrow and moved top prospect Nolan Foote and another first-round pick for Coleman.
Seravalli does point to Hagel as one of those players where teams have offered a first and a prospect (37:10 mark).
Brandon Hagel, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
The 23-year-old is having a career year with 27 points in 43 games, surpassing his 24 points from last season and is on pace for 45 points this season. He has above average possession numbers (min. 300 minutes), leading the Blackhawks with a 50.92 CF% and is fifth on the team in individual scoring chances with 63. He has contract at $1.5 million for two more seasons and will still be a RFA, you can see why teams are lining up for him.
Now is Hagel worth a first and a prospect? Probably not. It would probably make sense for the Maple Leafs to offer a price that might be a little cheaper, maybe a third or fourth-round pick with Dermott. If the Maple Leafs choose to make this a bigger package deal and bring in a defenseman like Calvin De Haan, who they have shown interest in previously, they could add in another mid-round pick or mid-level prospect.
Related: Blackhawks: 3 Trade Destinations for Calvin de Haan
While the Lightning gave up Nolan Foote, Dubas wouldn’t be giving up a prospect Nick Robertson or Rodion Amirov unless it’s for a big name on the market. If they do move a prospect, that could come in the form of Mikhail Abramov. If there is a bigger name in their pool the Maple Leafs could part with, Roni Hirvonen is a possibility. They definitely could be names that can be intriguing for the Blackhawks as they’re strong young talents.
While Dermott’s chances are dwindling to stay on the roster with the Maple Leafs, there are teams that are definitely interested in acquiring the young, mobile defender. He could very well be an asset that could bring in a player and help them for a deep playoff run.
Statistics from Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference and Cap Friendly. Image from Corey Snzadjer’s Public Tableau.
Peter is in his third year with The Hockey Writers, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs and heading the Draft and Prospects section. He has previously interned at The Hockey News and worked on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. He currently is the co-host of the podcast Sticks in the 6ix and a frequent guest on Maple Leafs Lounge. Aside from hockey, he also enjoys drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.