The Toronto Maple Leafs have re-signed restricted free agent Travis Dermott to a one-year contract. Dermott, who was not eligible for arbitration, has signed for his qualifying offer amount of $874,125.
This always seemed the likely outcome for the Maple Leafs, given how tight their cap situation is this offseason. The team had all the leverage in a negotiation with the young defenseman and benefit most from pushing any multi-year talks down the road. Dermott, 23, will be arbitration-eligible next offseason and able to command a bigger salary after playing in 157 games through his first three NHL seasons.
Though he hasn’t quite turned into the top-four defenseman the Maple Leafs envisioned when they selected him 34th overall in 2015, Dermott has been a quality contributor for the team and figures to be that once again in 2020-21. Even with several new additions on the right side, Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas even told reporters that Dermott would likely move to his off-side. Where that puts him in terms of the depth chart isn’t clear, though at such a low cost he can now be kept around even if he’s not in the lineup every night.
The Maple Leafs now sit just a little more than $1MM over the salary cap ceiling, though that CapFriendly projection has them at a full roster of 23 players. The team can easily send players like Rasmus Sandin down to the AHL to get under that $81.5MM threshold and have only Joey Anderson (who is also waiver-exempt) to sign as a restricted free agent.
It may have cost them Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson to do it, but the Maple Leafs appear to have basically completed their offseason goals while staying cap compliant—something that seemed extremely difficult just a few months ago. Time will tell whether the team has actually improved and how head coach Sheldon Keefe will deploy his new players.