Some followers grumbled after seeing the outcomes of the weekend’s NHL Entry Draft, when Maple Leafs basic supervisor Kyle Dubas didn’t draft a single participant over 5-foot-11. The group lacks measurement and physicality, they are saying, and absolutely one other undersized winger gained’t resolve their issues. However what 5-foot-9 Nick Robertson lacks in measurement, he greater than makes up for in talent and tenacity.
“He’s most likely the toughest working participant – perhaps within the draft,” Rob Wilson, Robertson’s coach with the Peterborough Petes, stated to The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel. “When we’ve a day without work, he’ll name and ask myself or the GM, ‘Is there any further ice?’ He actually needs sport tape of himself every day” (from ‘Belligerence. Pugnacity. Truculence? Nope. Meet Nick Robertson, the brand new mannequin for future Maple Leafs,’ The Athletic – 6/25/19). That arduous work continues off the ice, too. Robertson is working with former Maple Leaf, now famed coach, Gary Roberts at his excessive efficiency centre.
Nick Robertson (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Regardless of being thought of an offensive expertise with 27 targets and 55 factors in 54 video games this season, Robertson is concentrated on rounding out his 200-foot sport. Considering offence-first is a standard theme amongst prospects, and one which Maple Leafs followers have seen in their very own gamers. Nazem Kadri, for example, was an offence-first participant till the 2015-16 season, when he was first relied upon as extra of a shutdown or matchup centreman. That’s clearly not a problem for Robertson. The 17-year-old winger continuously requested Wilson about positioning in his personal zone and on the defensive aspect of the puck and in keeping with the coach, that spotlight to element and relentless drive to enhance is what separates him from different gamers.
John Lilley, the Maple Leafs’ director of beginner scouting, additionally spoke to the traits that make Robertson stand out from the pack – and make him prone to grow to be an on the spot fan favorite in Toronto:
“He’s pushed, and that’s a part of what we like about him is, other than the talent and the hockey sense, this child lives, breathes and eats hockey,” Lilley advised The Athletic. “I can’t offer you a primary line or second line, however we actually have excessive hopes that he’s going to be an offensive participant on the Nationwide Hockey League stage in time.”
Robertson Has Prime-Six Potential
Constructing off Lilley’s feedback, Robertson might sooner or later fill a top-six function within the NHL. Amongst 17 12 months olds within the Ontario Hockey League, Robertson completed ninth in factors and eighth in targets this season. He completed that whereas main his group in scoring, so he clearly didn’t get a lot assist. While you watch him in motion, you possibly can see that he’s oozing with talent:
His mixture of agility, puck management, and consciousness is on show right here, and mixed along with his dedication to bettering, it’s unbelievable that he slipped right down to the Maple Leafs at no. 53. Actually, he projected to be a first-rounder: Central Scouting had him 17th amongst North American skaters whereas consensus rankings, based mostly on 14 sources, put him 28th. Why Robertson fell thus far is anybody’s guess, however the Maple Leafs shall be ecstatic to choose up a real first-round expertise within the late second spherical.
One other truth to contemplate, is that he’s very younger: Robertson was born on Sep. 11, simply three days earlier than the closing date for this 12 months’s draft. He’s a number of months youthful than most members of his draft-year cohorts, which makes his present stage of improvement all of the extra spectacular.
Robertson scored 55 factors in 54 video games for the Peterborough Petes this previous season. (Claus Andersen/Getty Photos)
To make issues extra attention-grabbing, he has a brother, Jason, who additionally performs within the OHL. He was a second-round draft choose of the Dallas Stars in 2017, and this season, put up 117 factors in 62 video games. Extra importantly for Maple Leafs followers, Jason is far larger than his brother at 6-foot-2, 200 kilos. Factoring in Nick’s age, there may be nonetheless an opportunity that he might hit a late progress spurt and find yourself near his brother’s measurement. His top clearly hasn’t held him again up thus far, however nobody would complain about one other couple of inches.
Coaches and scouts have already thrown round a few intriguing comparables for Robertson. Probably the most outstanding identify out there may be Montreal Canadiens winger, Brendan Gallagher.
Brendan Gallagher is taken into account the closest NHL akin to Robertson. (Picture by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photos)
Like Robertson, Gallagher is a smallish winger at 5-foot-9, however his lack of measurement doesn’t deter him from attending to the web. Each gamers are identified for his or her infinite vitality and penchant for placing up factors. That they had comparable draft years as properly: Gallagher scored 41 targets and 81 factors in 72 video games for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, and someway fell to the fifth spherical. That was in 2010, when the league’s bias in favour of measurement was considerably stronger than it’s now. Gallagher has since confirmed his doubters fallacious, tallying over 30 targets and 50 factors the final two seasons. It’s too early to inform if the Maple Leafs’ second-round choose might replicate these numbers, but it surely’s not a foul factor to be held in that regard.
Robertson himself thinks his sport resembles that of present Maple Leaf Trevor Moore. Each gamers are California-natives who pleasure themselves on their pesky play, though Robertson initiatives to have a greater scoring contact on the NHL stage. Regardless of showing in simply 25 common season video games, Moore has already grow to be a fan favorite in Toronto.
Robertson compares himself to present Maple Leaf Trevor Moore. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Younger)
He’s acquired a protracted strategy to go, however don’t be shocked if Robertson makes the identical impression on Leafs Nation just a few years down the road.
Participant stats from http://www.prospect-stats.com/ and http://www.hockeydb.com