Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is not impressed with one of his young talents.
After a very strong performance at the National Hockey League level during the 2017 - 2018 NHL regular season it seemed like 21 year old Maple Leafs defenseman Travis Dermott was going to be a lock to make the Leafs roster for the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season but that may not in fact be the case. In a very surprising report on Monday morning Sportsnet's NHL insider Chris Johnston has revealed that Mike Babcock has not seen as much as he would like to see in training camp from his young defenseman.
"Well I want him to act like he’s trying to make the team," Babcock said after the Leafs wrapped up three days of on-ice sessions in Niagara Falls as per Johnston. "So intensity and jump and compete. You know, young guys, sometimes when you arrive what happens to you, is you think ‘Oh I’ve arrived now."
Now to be fair to Dermott you could hardly blame the young man for believing that he did enough over the course of this most recent season to believe that he has in fact "arrived" at the NHL level. Dermott in just 37 games for the Maple Leafs last season but in those 37 games he recorded 1 goal and 12 assists while posting a very impressive plus minus rating of +16 over that stretch. When you consider that Toronto has historically lacked depth on the blue line over the past several seasons having a young player come in and make that kind of immediate impact certainly turned a lot of heads, and no doubt Dermott heard that talk during his time in Toronto.
You can also add to that the fact that capturing a Calder Cup Championship as a member of the Toronto Marlies almost certainly provided Dermott with a massive boost in his personal confidence, hoisting the Calder Cup is after all no easy feat to accomplish. Interestingly enough however Babcock himself hinted at the fact that the championship win may have had a negative impact on how Dermott and one other member of the Marlies view their standing in the organization.
"But the other guys want your job so it’s about getting better each and every day. I think him and [winger Andreas Johnsson] are both in the same boat that way – they went down, they won a championship and yet it’s the National Hockey League and you’ve got to win a job."
It's not all bad however as according to Johnston it appears that Dermott himself may be aware of the fact that he is going to need to shine in the Maple Leafs upcoming exhibition games in order to earn himself a more permanent spot on the roster for the start of this upcoming regular season,
"I don’t think you can come in expecting that a job’s waiting for you," said Dermott. "But I think with my experience last year, it gives me confidence, for sure, coming in here maybe a little more comfortable. Knowing what I have to do to be successful and play my game."
Still it certainly should be a concern for Leafs' fans that Babcock is so underwhelmed he made his thoughts on the matter public.