The Toronto Maple Leafs had been a person of the NHL’s worst defensive teams in 2016-17.
With 234 pucks bulging their twine, the Leafs’ targets versus for every sport mark of 2.85 was the ninth greatest in the league. Further more, issue in the ridiculous selection of photographs which they permitted versus for every contest – 31.9 – and it will become fairly apparent that much improvement is wanted on Toronto’s blue line.
Frederik Andersen was unbelievable for the Leafs in 2016-17 inspite of being berated by photographs. (Tom Szczerbowski-United states of america Nowadays Athletics)
Just one major cause for the team’s lack of success defensively was their almost non-existent depth.
Not only did the Leafs boast an amazingly younger blue line outside the house of Roman Polak and Matt Hunwick but they experienced a trim couple of defenders able of hopping into the lineup in the situation of an harm. The two most widespread substitutes – Martin Marincin and Alexey Marchenko – the two performed admirably in the course of their constrained participating in time, nevertheless, neither eventually venture to build into secure gamers at the NHL degree.
Is Martin Marincin a piece of Toronto’s long-term long term or merely a short term alternative? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
If Toronto needs to love sustainable success long into their long term, major updates ought to be made to the team’s defence-core. Now, this does not necessarily mean merely introducing professional defenders who can engage in a depth job but, somewhat, able younger gamers who will be able to build and mature alongside the franchise’s present younger expertise.
Thankfully, techniques have and continue on to be made in get to handle this concern.
In get to dietary supplement this obvious need, the Leafs have accomplished their most effective to enhance their franchise in phrases of the two their skill as very well as depth.
Most notably, the firm inked two excellent younger defence potential clients in Calle Rosén and Andreas Borgman. Of considerable Swedish Hockey League working experience, the two must see time with the Leafs at the NHL degree in the in the vicinity of long term next ongoing improvement. Given their immense opportunity, every single younger ‘Swede could engage in a major job in Toronto if presented adequate time to acclimate to the North American model of sport.
Ron Hainsey’s broad working experience and composure will be of unbelievable reward to a younger Leafs blue line. (Charles LeClaire-United states of america Nowadays Athletics)
Additional recently, Toronto nabbed Ron Hainsey on a two-calendar year offer. As a veteran defender and stabilizing existence, Hainsey’s working experience and leadership must do wonders for the team’s defence-core as it carries on to adapt and attain regularity at hockey’s greatest degree.
In addition to these new acquisitions, the Leafs also have a selection of potential clients who continue on to development in numerous developmental leagues. Of distinct observe are Timothy Liljegren, Travis Dermott, Andrew Nielsen, Rinat Valiev, and Justin Holl. Although Liljegren, Dermott, and Nielsen are undoubtedly the extra promising of individuals mentioned, the two Valiev and Holl possess the competencies to, perhaps, engage in a depth job with the staff down the street.
The Extensive Photographs
So, though the addition and improvement of individuals mentioned higher than could handle Toronto’s depth difficulties, which defenders are eventually able of generating a genuine effects in the in the vicinity of long term? And, probably extra importantly, which player will able to protected the team’s remaining opening on defence as a person of the franchise’s most important seasons in new historical past strategies?
Nicely, when the 2017-18 campaign begins, I really do not be expecting to see any of Nielsen, Borgman, Valiev, or Holl on the Leafs’ roster. Whilst all continue to be rather younger and in fantastic standing inside the firm, I sense as while extra participating in time is essential of all 4 inside the American Hockey League in advance of they can adhere their landing at the NHL degree.
A prospect teeming with skill, Nielsen’s NHL arrival stays some time away. (Jean-Yves Ahern-United states of america Nowadays Athletics)
Now, this is not to say that none of individuals mentioned higher than will see time with the staff subsequent calendar year, only that they will not begin the campaign in a entire-time job with the firm at the NHL degree. Unless a person of these defenders enjoys an excellent teaching camp and preseason with the staff, the whole team will definitely open up up the coming time with the Marlies.
The Two Accurate Contenders
So, if the likes of Nielsen and Borgman, amongst other folks, will not begin the coming time at the NHL degree, this undoubtedly begs the dilemma of who, in distinct, will.
In my viewpoint, Toronto’s remaining opening on the blue line will be stuffed by either Dermott or Rosén. Sure, I know, neither of these two are proper-handed photographs, nevertheless, the Leafs will not have an elite proper-shot defender to legitimately look at right up until Liljegren’s arrival which stays at the very least a calendar year away.
The Sturdy Standout: Travis Dermott
Firstly, let’s begin by generating the situation for Dermott.
Although he has only a person time of experienced hockey beneath his belt, Dermott was extremely amazing with the Marlies in 2016-17 and speedily became a person of the team’s extra trustworthy gamers. A standout in the eyes of Head Coach Sheldon Keefe, Dermott stepped into the AHL and experienced tiny difficulty modifying, as he was a able drive at the two ends of the ice. Regretably, a reduced-physique harm forced Dermott from the lineup for a considerable time period of time – a somewhat unfortunate scenario and a person which impacted the Newmarket, Ontario, native’s specific improvement.
As a extremely intelligent two-way defender, Dermott is thriving thanks to his capability to imagine and evaluate the sport at a high degree. Capable of deciphering the intent of his opponents and able to react appropriately, Dermott performs a shutdown model in his defensive zone although, at the exact same time, standing as a genuine danger in the offensive end.
Travis Dermott has come a long way considering the fact that he starred with the Otters, nevertheless is he prepared for the NHL? (Terry Wilson/OHL Visuals.)
In shorter, Dermott’s model is personalized for the experienced ranks. Although he shot the lights out in the course of his days with the Erie Otters of the OHL, Dermott’s refined and calculated method has resulted in remarkable prosperity early in his younger profession.
At just 20 a long time-of-age, Dermott has plenty of time in advance of himself to further build and would undoubtedly reward from considerable working experience in the NHL. As a former next-round decide of the staff, Dermott could effortlessly development into a top-4 defender at hockey’s greatest degree, and specially so if the Leafs provide him with sufficient opportunity to realize success.
The Sensational ‘Swede: Calle Rosén
Although Dermott is an excellent alternative to fill Toronto’s remaining void on the blue line, the recently signed Rosén is also a genuine option, as his considerable experienced working experience could give him the selecting edge in the matter.
Not a good offer was identified about Rosén when he signed a two-calendar year entry-degree deal with the Leafs in May of 2017. Although it was commonly rumoured that Toronto experienced coveted his products and services, Rosén’s skill-established and participating in model experienced remained mainly unidentified to the North American audience.
So, what exactly does the Växjö, Sweden, indigenous provide to the ice?
Rosén could leap into the Leafs’ lineup if afforded the opportunity. (Vaxjo Lakers/Champions Hockey League through Getty Visuals)
Nicely, of stable dimension, Rosén is a great skater who combines his velocity and agility into a reliable model. As a strong puck-handler of unbelievable composure, Rosén can have the puck up ice in advance of either passing it off or pounding a difficult shot on net. In possession of a impressive release, Rosén’s shot has the capability to overwhelm opposing netminders and can generate rebounds with startling frequency for his fellow teammates.
Additional than able at the two ends of the ice, Rosén is a dependable defender who has no major weaknesses in his sport. Capable of shutting down a developing engage in defensively in advance of transitioning the puck to his forwards, Rosén is an all-all over danger whose comprehensive sport must transition very well to the NHL degree. Further more, with practically 100 online games of SHL working experience in hand, Rosén’s acclimation to North America should be significantly less tumultuous than that of most.
The Final Final decision
Although the two Dermott and Rosén are equally deserving of securing the remaining opening on the Leafs’ blue line, it goes with out expressing that only a person could begin the 2017-18 NHL time with the staff.
So, although Dermott is an unbelievable younger defender whose engage in looks to enhance substantially on an yearly basis, my option as Toronto’s sixth defenceman is none other than the freshly inked Rosén.
A bit older at the age of 23, Rosén’s SHL working experience – and success – merely are not able to be disregarded and will eventually be important to his prosperity as a rookie at the NHL degree. As a mature and seasoned skater, Rosén projects to adapt significantly extra speedily to the NHL sport than Dermott and, in carrying out so, will provide the Leafs with a calming existence on their bottom-paring in the instant long term.
Confident, the likes of Nielsen, Dermott, and Borgman could keep specific opportunity increased than Rosén, nevertheless, at this time, Rosén is the most very well organized to tackle this immense challenge. Very likely skating with Hainsey on the 3rd pairing, Rosén would be questioned to engage in on the proper facet, wherever he will experience nevertheless a different challenge in his preliminary campaign.
Nonetheless, what about Marincin and Marchenko, as very well as other folks this kind of as Andrew Campbell? Nicely, Toronto has arrived at a point in their rebuild wherever they ought to make a selection of hard selections. Although every single of the three have made varying contributions to the firm, the Leafs ought to now make a decision regardless of whether or not they keep a distinct position inside the team’s long term. If not, Common Manager Lou Lamoriello ought to transfer on from these potential clients and allow for the several other folks waiting around eagerly in the wings to absorb much desired participating in time.
So, although Rosén is my option to crack Toronto’s lineup to begin the 2017-18 campaign, his variety would be anything but a definitive decision for the Leafs. Although he is arguably the most NHL-prepared defender inside the firm, this kind of will not essentially be the situation in the not so distant long term as other folks – particularly Liljegren, Dermott, and Nielsen – continue on to build and enhance.