Toronto Maple Leafs: Don’t Be So Quick To Assume Lehtonen Makes Dermott Expendable

Toronto Maple Leafs - Travis Dermott (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Travis Dermott (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs scored a great victory yesterday.

With competition from many other teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs signed KHL free agent Mikko Lehtonen, who is the best defenseman in the KHL and its sixth leading scorer overall, this past season.

At the very least, Lehtonen will provide the Leafs with a solid 3rd pairing player making under a million dollars per year.

That’s at the very least.  He definitely has upside which could see the Leafs suddenly having one of the better groups of blue-liners in the NHL.

Since the Leafs are very deep with left shooting defensemen – they also have Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, Travis Dermott and Rasums Sandin – it is logical to think that Travis Dermott may be on his way out.

This may in fact be the case.

Leafs Should Keep Dermott

Dermott needs a new contract, the team is deep in left handed defenseman, and he’d likely make for a valuable asset in a trade.

The thing is though, you really don’t want to be giving away good young defenseman, especially ones that you can potentially lock up long term on a team friendly deal.

The Leafs have one year of Lehtonen, and if he’s the kind of player who makes getting rid of Travis Dermott a worthwhile move, he’s also not likely to be re-signed after his debut NHL season, since he’ll command a high salary and the Leafs won’t be able to afford it.

Since Dermott has strong stats but low scoring numbers, there is a good candidate to try and sign long term for slightly more than he’s currently worth today with the idea that he’ll end up being very cheap over the long term.

Here the stats I used in a recent article to show how good Dermott is.  (

"Dermott is  27th in Corsi percentage out of 167 defenseman who have played 2000 minutes over the last three seasons.39th in shots-for percentage, 16th in goals-for percentage, 35nd in expected-goals percentage."

Playing third pairing minutes, Dermott has put up numbers that have somewhere around the 30 to 40th most effective defenseman in the NHL.  Now, granted he is playing 3rd pairing minutes against weaker competition, but if putting up these kinds of numbers was easy on the 3rd pairing, there’d be 60 other 3rd pairing defensemen with similar numbers.

But there are not.

With Sandin and Lehtonen on the team, there doesn’t appear to be a position for Dermott to play unless he can move to the right side.

But a player who just turned 23 and already has a history of 150 odd games of putting up stats in the upper echelon of NHL players shouldn’t be disregarded lightly.

Next. The Salary Cap Problem the Leafs Don't Have. dark

I don’t think the Toronto Maple Leafs should trade Travis Dermott.  If they do, they will regret it for years.

Dermott gis the kind of player that 100% of the time gets underrated by hockey fans because he doesn’t score a lot, and the kind of defense he provides doesn’t feature big hits or particularly memorable shot-blocking.

Trading him will be a mistake.