Dermott, Liljegren solid on Leafs rookie blue line

Travis Dermott will heavily contend for a spot on the Leafs’ roster at training camp. If Sunday’s rookie tournament outing versus the Ottawa Senators is any indication, Toronto’s 2015 second-round draft choice will be hard to overlook.

Dermott displayed his physical acumen with a crunching body check on Ottawa’s Gabriel Gagne, to the appreciation of the Ricoh Coliseum crowd. His presence in the lineup – after missing Friday’s game – elevated the team, according to coach Sheldon Keefe.

“With his abilities, and his experience, he makes the whole group feel a little bit better,” Keefe said. ” He eats a lot of minutes and makes people feel comfortable. I thought he did a lot of really good things for us.”

The Leafs vaulted to a quick 3-0 first period lead, but ended up losing 4-3 following a six-round shootout.

Dermott exuded confidence, both on the ice with his teammates, and off the ice in addressing reporters as he self-assessed his progress over the past twelve months.

“Coming in with a little more experience under my belt, I’m playing my game instead of reacting to how other guys are playing theirs,” Dermott said.

The pairing of Dermott and Timothy Liljegren was Toronto’s most effective tandem on the afternoon. Liljegren shook off a subpar game on Friday and cradled the puck with poise and fearlessness, earning ice time on both the power play and the penalty kill.

“I thought he was really good with the puck,” Keefe said. “I thought he looked really confident, but then I thought he also defended really well today.”

Martins Dzierkals, Ryan McGregor and Trevor Moore had the Leafs goals.

Kasimir Kaskisuo took the loss in goal, despite holding off the Senators for the first five rounds of the shootout.


Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, at TMLfans.ca

In 2016, Rob wrote “Hockey’s Enforcers: A Dying Breed”, now available at Chapters and Indigo stores everywhere.