2017 Los Angeles Kings Top 25 Under 25, #15: Kurtis MacDermid

Can this undrafted defenseman make a name for himself this year and possibly crack the NHL?

Our annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown continues, and this week you’ll see some of these players in action! The rankings were determined by a combination of reader voting and our staff’s own voting. We then combined the reader rankings (50%) and the staff rankings (50%) to determine the top 25. To be eligible for the countdown, a player must be 24 or younger on October 5, 2017, when the 2017-18 NHL season begins.

We’re taking a look at the best and the brightest in the Los Angeles Kings organization in our fifth annual Top 25 Under 25 countdown. Starting off week 3, our #15: Kurtis MacDermid.

2016-17 Team: Ontario Reign (AHL)
2016-17 Statistics: 60 GP, 6 G, 14 A, 20 P
Current NHL Projection (via NHLe): 82 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 P (based on AHL total)

Jewels Reader Ranking: 13
Jewels Staff Ranking: 22

Kurtis MacDermid is a rather an interesting and somewhat surprising player. In terms of offensive contribution, he actually had a pretty decent season. In 58 games played, his six goals was tied for second among defensemen with Paul LaDue behind team captain Vincent LoVerde, who tallied nine last year. In fact, in two extra games played following the 2015-16 season, MacDermid managed two extra goals and two extra assists. He didn’t show this much consistent growth offensively over the course of his junior career, but that might just be random noise considering how few games he played in three of six years in the Ontario Hockey League.

However, MacDermid isn’t being counted on for his abilities to score. He’s mostly known for being a big, gritty player who is characteristically “tough to play against” because he’s nasty and patrols the blue line. Basically, he’s a young Matt Greene. Or Robyn Regehr. Or insert token defenseman here. MacDermid lives up to his reputation with 276 penalties in minutes in 114 games played. He was also was suspended for several games as a rookie during the Reign’s inaugural year (2015-16) as an AHL team for a high hit on San Diego Gulls’ Matt Bailey. It was actually his only suspension so far in his nascent professional career. Throughout the course of major junior and AHL, MacDermid has always been known to be a punishing player and has consistently delivered hard hits to opponents.

There is an opportunity on the horizon for the young Quebec native and the possibility to prove that he’s more than just a hard nosed grinder. Depth on the blue line for the Kings is rather ho-hum at best and a slate of injuries could potentially open the door for the 23-year-old. Supposing that LaDue makes the cut out of training camp (which isn’t far fetched given his play last season), and even with the addition of Christian Folin, it may not be so implausible that MacDermid could get a shot if the situation warrants it. He plays a simple game, has decent skating skills, and is by far the most NHL ready of all the defensive prospects in LA’s system.

Interestingly, he seems to have leapfrogged Alex Lintuniemi and Zac Leslie, the latter who showed quite a bit of promise while playing on the Guelph Storm but was derailed by injuries. Others have shown flashes of promise, but nothing that would justify a call-up—at least at this moment in time. A year ago, we probably would’ve said the same thing about LaDue and he was having a very good season when he was recalled. Barring any major leaps in development from the likes of Leslie, Lintuniemi, or possibly Matt Roy, MacDermid fits the bill for an injury replacement. Unless there’s a surprise signing in the next few weeks, keep an eye on MacDermid this year. The opportunity is there for him. It’s only a matter if he’s up to the challenge.