Consider Lou Lamoriello one of them. The Leafs general manager spoke highly of Dermott during an appearance on Prime Time Sports on Tuesday, but didn’t indicate if Dermott would be extending his stay with the big club.
“He certainly has played well over the last two games but we’ve got seven defencemen here right now and we’ve got one of (our) mainstay top-four is injured so we’ll take this a game at a time, see how things transpire,” Lamoriello said. (Second-year D-man Nikita Zaitsev has been on injured reserve since mid-December due to broken foot.) “Our coaching staff will make the decision about who plays, but he’s got a bright future.”
Dermott, 21, saw 12 minutes of ice time in his Saturday-night debut against the Vancouver Canucks and followed it up with 16 minutes on Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It’s better a player coming up too late than too soon, and getting him as much positive experience he possibly can whenever he does come up,” Lamoriello said. “And I think that certainly over the last two nights, he’s gotten quality ice time and he’s handled it extremely well.”
Dermott’s success so far is good news for the blue line — especially that the lefty can play on his off-side — but it isn’t a surprise to Lamoriello. Instead, those honours go to the young defenceman whom he replaced on Saturday night: Andreas Borgman.
Borgman excelled in the Swedish Hockey League last season, being named rookie of the year and topping it all off by signing with the Maple Leafs and battling his way onto the opening-night roster.
“Coming in and not being intimidated in any way whatsoever at his young age and being comfortable in his own skin and playing both physical and not being afraid to take chances,” Lamoriello said of the six-foot, 212-pound blueliner, who has been part of the team’s regular rotation of young defencemen since Game 1. “So I think that he’s come in, because it was unexpected at that time. We thought he was an outstanding prospect.”
Listen to Lamoriello’s full interview below: