Travis Dermott on his “firecracker” teammate Ilya Mikheyev, and wanting to be more offensive for Bruce Boudreau
Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Faber1 year ago
Travis Dermott was all smiles after a summer skate session with the Canucks this week.
Getting back on the ice with his teammates was something he was looking forward to all offseason. The Canuck defenceman spent his summer in his hometown of Newmarket, Ontario. He wanted to get back to Vancouver a bit earlier than most players as he wanted to see more of the city before the rain came — a true veteran move.
Dermott was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Canucks at the 2022 trade deadline in exchange for a third-round pick. He spent five seasons with the Leafs and was ecstatic when he heard that the team had signed his former teammate Ilya Mikheyev. He told us that Mikheyev is one of the funniest guys in the locker room and that we as the media need to bring up his soup commercial.
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Aside from the Campbell’s commercials, Dermott is very excited to have Mikheyev as a teammate because his skill set is very difficult to play against. Dermott compared Mikheyev’s combination of speed and skill to one of the best in the game.
“He’s just a firecracker out there. I’m happy he’s with us now because I really didn’t want to play against him. He’s just so fast and the way he thinks the game with his skill works with the speed seamlessly. It’s kind of like a McDavid-type thing where the speed alone is scary, but once you mix in the skill and the mindset with the speed, it can be pretty dangerous.”
It’s obvious that Mikheyev isn’t going to be the same player as Connor McDavid but his speed is definitely up there with some of the top skaters in the league. In addition of his speed and skill, Mikheyev stands at 6’2″ and we have seen the speed on display during these summer skates.
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It’s hard to take away a lot from these informal summer skates but we’ve seen Dermott be one of the louder voices on the ice. He’s been pumping up his guys on the ice every chance he gets.
Dermott only got into 17 games with the Canucks this past season but is well aware that the team’s strength comes from their forward group. He doesn’t want the defence corps to be the weak point of this team. Dermott believes that the defencemen can build off of what the forward group does well. It’s more about building off of the success that the Canucks had under head coach Bruce Boudreau, and seeing if they can keep that momentum going into next season.
“Just as a whole team perspective, we look at how we did last year after Bruce came in, and I think the whole team can kind of build off that. I mean, Demmer was lights out… we had some forwards really set some milestones and push themselves individually and I think the defence is just going come with that. I feel like our defence did pretty well and we’re learning and following that up and not being the lackadaisical part of the team. I think we’re just going to force each other to get better every day. I think if we just keep that mentality like the powerhouse forwards, the forwards will push us to be powerhouse defencemen too.”
Dermott had high praise for Boudreau in our chat with him — calling him the perfect coach for the 25-year-old defenceman.
“He’s a perfect coach for me in my eyes. He’s such a personable guy. You’re going out on the ice every day and you’re not scared that your boss is going to yell at you. Sure, he might get intense and raise his voice a couple of times. But it’s from his heart. It’s kind of hard to explain unless you’re on the bench listening to him. He takes a passion in (coaching) where you learn to really respect the words coming out of his mouth even if they are harsh sometimes. You learn to really respect it and that goes a long way with the player-coach relationship. I think that’s why you could see how the team did after he came on last year — I think that (Bruce) has a big part to do with it.”
It’s an interesting spot for Dermott this season. It’s clear that management believes in the player, otherwise, they wouldn’t have given up a third-round pick for him. Dermott spoke about being comfortable on both the left and right side and said that he is excited to see what a player like Jack Rathbone can do to help this team.
There’s a good chance that we could see a Rathbone-Dermott pairing to begin the season and this has the potential to be a strong puck-moving pairing that looks to add offence from the backend.
For years now, Dermott has been focused on becoming a better defender and after a summer of reflection and conversations with his head coach, it’s time for him to lean more into what he does well — being offensive.
“I really want to see if I can join in more offensively this year. For the last six years, when I’ve had these talks with the media guys, it’s been ‘I want to get better defensively, I want to get better defensively,’ and it’s kind of nagging now. I’ve been focusing on defence a lot and it’s still something I definitely have to focus on. But I know Bruce has given me some confident little hits that he wants me to jump in a little more offensively. So that’s definitely going to be something that I’m going to try to do. I think my confidence comes when I’m jumping in offensively too. So I’m sure my defensive side will open up once that happens anyways.”
Being versatile as a defenceman is going to help Dermott make an impact on this Canucks lineup. When we look at the defence corps, the top-four looks pretty locked in with Quinn Hughes, Luke Schenn, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Tyler Myers. Dermott feels like the first move to make to the top-four if poor play or an injury creates an opening.
For now, we look ahead to training camp where the health of Tucker Poolman will be one of the deciding factors on how the third-pairing shakes down. If Poolman is healthy, he could end up being the opening night defenceman on the right side of the third pairing. This would create a battle between Rathbone and Dermott for that 3LD spot.
Our ideal defence corps has a Rathbone-Dermott pairing even with Poolman healthy but the idea of Poolman, a defensive defenceman playing with one of Rathbone or Dermott does open up the ice to be more offensive. If Dermott and Rathbone end up playing together on a third pairing, there will be concerns about their defensive play.
Rathbone worked hard in the AHL to improve on his defensive play and showed well against minor leaguers. Dermott’s defensive numbers when in a third pairing role show well and perhaps there shouldn’t be as much concern about the potential of an offensive pairing that features the two lefties.
No matter the case, Dermott should be an important piece to the depth of the defence, and he clearly enjoys playing for Boudreau and is excited to see how his first full season goes with the Vancouver Canucks.
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