It sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs are willing to part with one of their defensemen. According to The Athletics James Mirtle (subscription required), the Leafs have been taking calls on some of their blueliners. Should the New York Islanders inquire?
Remember the Islanders are still looking for a Nick Leddy-esque puck carrier. They could also likely use an upgrade. Not that the defense has been awful, but they haven’t been great either. An upgrade to the top four would be welcomed.
So can they, and more importantly should they call up Kyle Dubas?
New York Islanders: Should they make a deal with Toronto?
The two guys James Mirtle indicates could be on the move are Travis Dermot or Justin Holl. Both seem to be surplus on the Leafs blueline. Holl has already spent a few days in the press box as a healthy scratch.
More importantly, the Leafs need cap space. They have so little room that they couldn’t even call up a backup goalie when they need one, instead, they signed a local university player to sit as the backup a few weeks back.
Could the Isles use either of them? Some of you might be screaming: “Yes! Anything is an upgrade”. And well, not anything would be an upgrade, but these two could very well be upgrades for the Isles.
Fellow Atheltic writer Dom Luszczszyn came up with Game Score Value Added (GSVA). A single score to define a player’s value. You can read all about the model here (subscription required). You can see how Dermott and Holl rank compared to the other Isles blueliners:
- Pulock 2.5
- Pelech 2.1
- Dobson 0.7
- Mayfield 0.6
- Chara 0.1
- Greene -0.1
Justin Holl 0.7
Travis Dermott 0.3
Justin Holl would be the better player in terms of GSVA, but he is right-handed and the Islanders could use a lefty instead. Making Travis Dermott the target from the Leafs.
Now, what does he bring? Is he that Nick Leddy-esque player?
We know that Dermott is a solid top-four defenseman. According to NaturalStatTrick, he has solid underlying numbers with an xGF% above 58% and a HDCF% above 61%. He’s also just as good as fellow blueliner Morgan Reilly at generating shots and shot assist at 5on5 last season according to Corey Sznajeder.
And he’s a decent puck carrier. Last season, Dermot had the second-most exits per 60 with 11.23 on the Leafs blueline while holding a tidy 2.516 failed exist per 60. Nick Leddy was at 7.12 exits per 60 and 4.67 failed exits. Sure, Toronto has a system that is more rush-focused than the Islanders so those exits/60 are a bit inflated, but that low failure rate is impressive.
According to Mirtle, the return on Dermott isn’t high. Who knows what the Leafs actually want, but Mirtle suggested that perhaps a cheaper veteran D and a pick or a prospect could get the deal done.
Dermott carries a $1.5 million hit on the cap, so just about anyone outside of Pelech and Pulock are cheaper. So the Isles have what it takes to make it work. Just about any prospect is fair game as well. Robin Salo and Samuel Bolduc might be the only exceptions.
The Isles also have the cap space to make it work after Johnny Boychuk’s deal was moved to the Buffalo Sabres.
I know some of you will say that Robin Salo is free and should get a chance, but the Islanders aren’t set on playing the rookie. Yet. Getting an NHL vet like Dermott to play right now is right up their alley. And at 24 (he turns 25 in December) with another year on his deal, Dermott could be a longer-term upgrade.
It seems like the right call for Lou Lamoriello to ring up his former protogé to make a deal.