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Playing on a team with two of the top prospects in the NHL draft in Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome might make one think that other draft prospects can be overshadowed. However for a player like Travis Dermott it can also be an advantage, as he will know that scouts will be in the building every night, and he too will get the chance to impress. It is impressive any time a draft eligible player is the number one defenceman, and used in all situations by his OHL team. Its even more impressive when that team is one of the top contenders in the league. With 45 points in 61 games during the regular season, Dermott certainly showed that he was an important part of the Erie Otters, supplying offense from the back end. He took his game up another notch in the playoffs with 17 points in 19 games as the Otters went all the way to the Ontario Hockey League final. Unfortunately for Erie a trip to the Memorial Cup may not have been in the cards. Even with Dermott missing this showcase event, he’s certainly had plenty of time in a high profile spotlight this season.
Defense — shoots Left
Born Dec 22 1996 — Newmarket, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 197 [183 cm/89 kg]
Travis Dermott’s biggest asset is his hockey sense. His positioning at both ends of the ice is extremely strong. He reads the play well, and picks the right times to pinch in at the blueline, to join the rush, or to look to step up and make a hit. With the puck on his stick he is able to avoid danger with good poise and decent stickhandling, use his vision to make a strong first pass, or to control the play and quarterback things from the point on the powerplay. His shot could use more power, but he gets it through traffic, and keeps it low and on net, looking for screens, deflections and tip ins. He almost always has his head up and looking for the right play, which he makes on most occassions. He isn’t the top of puck rushing defenceman to try and go coast to coast with it, but has been known to follow up on the play to unleash a wrist shot or one timer.
Travis Dermott is a very good skater. He has impressive speed and acceleration in both directions. He has a very quick first step which allows him to be first on loose pucks. With his good pivots, edgework and agility he is able to transition from offence to defence, or vice-versa, quickly and this helps him to cover a ton of ice. This agility and edgework also helps him to walk the line in the offensive zone, allowing him to open up shooting and passing lanes. Dermott might not be the biggest player, but he has a strong lower body and is solid on his skates, helping him to win board battles and to clear the front of the net. While he does well against most players, he can still struggle with the exceptionally big forwards though just due to the sheer size and strength mismatch.
Dermott is a very solid defensive player. His strong positioning and skating allow him to maintain excellent gap control and funnel attackers to the outside of the ice. He is quick on the puck, retrieving it out of the corners or pouncing on rebounds and clearing them out of danger. Dermott is an absolutely fearless shot blocker, willing to put his body on the line to help the team win. He plays big minutes against the opponents top lines, and on the penalty kill for the Otters.
Travis Dermott has the potential to be a solid top four defenseman in the NHL. His size and strength can be improved going forward, and he can develop into an even better stickhandler to create more plays, but overall he’s got a well-rounded game that should take him far. He doesn’t have the high-end upside of some of the other defencemen in this draft, as I’m not sure he can ever be an elite player at the next level, but he should still be a solid contributor. His game is reminiscent of Kris Russell of the Calgary Flames, though this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on talent.
Below are some highlights of Travis Dermott in action.
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Main Photo: Terry Wilson, OHL Images