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Dermott returns to bolster Leafs' blue line

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TSN Toronto reporter Mark Masters checks in daily with news and notes on the Maple Leafs, who held an optional morning skate at Canadian Tire Centre ahead of Saturday’s game against the Senators.

Help is on the way.

Toronto's blue line will get a big boost tonight as Travis Dermott returns after missing 14 games with a shoulder injury.

"It's tough, especially when the team's not performing like we know we can, it can be pretty frustrating sitting there pretty helpless," the 23-year-old said of the time off. "But, it kind of makes you want to come back more and stronger, and when you do come back you want to be ready. It kind of pushes you into that mindset where you really want to come back and help as much as I can."

"He’s just a really good puck-moving defenceman," said centre Auston Matthews. "He makes plays offensively, the break-outs, he can make passes on his forehand, backhand so he’s obviously a pretty big part of that back end and happy to have him back."

Dermott sustained the injury after taking a big hit from Edmonton’s Brad Malone in a game on Feb. 27. He’s worked hard through some physical practices and now feels ready to absorb a check. Well, as ready as possible.

"I don’t know how much you can say that that’s 100% like a game, but I'm as prepared as I think I can be and I feel confident with it so I’m going out there and I'll see how it feels tonight."

Dermott's injury coincided with Jake Gardiner being shutdown with a back injury leaving the Leafs without two of their better puck movers on the blue line. It was a double whammy that proved hard to overcome as Toronto went 6-5-3 allowing 54 goals (3.86 per game).

"Dermy’s a guy who’s real good with the puck,” noted head coach Mike Babcock. "He’s got good fast twitch, he thinks it and moves it and so he’s good on the O-zone blue line and he’s getting better on his own blue line and in his own zone. He’s an important player for us. When you take Gards and him out of our line-up, our ability to generate offence from the back and get your forwards the puck both on the O-zone blue line and just out of your own zone wasn’t the same at all."

The left-handed Dermott will slot in on the right side.

"I'd like everyone to be right........