You don’t need me to tell you that Nick Robertson is damned good. Maybe you do? How closely do you follow the OHL?
Anyways, Nick Robertson’s 55 goals in 46 games is pretty impressive, and he had a particularly good week last week…
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) March 9, 2020
Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Nick Robertson of the Peterborough Petes is the OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week with 10 points in three games including five goals and five assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-8.
Robertson led the Petes to a perfect 3-0 week, outscoring opponents 25-2 in the process as he increased his goal-scoring total to a CHL-leading 55. The third-year winger scored a goal in Thursday’s 8-0 blanking of the visiting Hamilton Bulldogs. He earned first star honours with two goals and two assists in Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the Mississauga Steelheads on home ice, finishing the game with seven shots on goal. Robertson rounded out the weekend with his second five-point effort of the season, scoring twice while adding three assists as the Petes took it to the Niagara IceDogs in a 12-1 road win.
So there’s all that. I’m not an OHL scout, so can someone please tell me if 10 points in three games is good?
All of this begs the question, what will the Leafs do with Nick Robertson next season? He’s not going to be meet the requirements for playing on the Marlies next season, so please tell the person in our social media comments section to go and read the article. He’s not eligible. That leaves three options.
Option 1: Send him back to the OHL.
Fans of over ripening prospects will all be in favour of this one. He gets another year in junior, possibly to address the defensive inefficiencies in his game. The problem with that is, when was the last time a player significantly improved defensively overall because they figured out how to stop junior players? Also, is there a risk in his game not progressing beyond where it is today. And finally how confident are the Leafs in the Petes to develop their best prospect outside their system? I’d guess not very. Unless there is a team the Leafs do trust to develop their players for them and force a trade (I’m looking at you, Soo Greyhounds) I don’t see how the OHL is a good option.
Option 2: Give him his chance in the NHL Somewhere along the way there started a belief that players can’t be developed in the NHL, and they need to figure out their games at lower tiers. There is also a belief that by playing a player only 12 minutes a night they will somehow lose the ability to go back up to 20 minutes when they are ready.
All of that aside, it would be one hell of a leap for Robertson, and would require a lot of work on his part to make it a possibility. He’ll need to add weight, speed, and study a hell of a lot film to begin to understand what he’s getting into, and then he’s going to need to impress at every camp he attends. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but it seems like the best case scenario involves everything going right.
On the upside, he’ll get nine regular season games to figure it out before he burns a year of his entry level contract, and no matter what, he’s not eligible to be taken in the expansion draft.
Option 3: Europe?
I’m not sure how possible a European loan is and how that would effect the Leafs long term relationship with the CHL, but if Robertson doesn’t appear to be ready for the NHL, this is likely the best middle ground to get him ready for pro hockey.
The Leafs would lose a lot of control over the development process, but he would get tougher competition. This idea seems unlikely, and we’re probably back to hoping for option 2 and realizing that option one is unfortunately what we’re stuck with.
Still, that’s a problem for another day, for now let’s enjoy that the Leafs found an absolute jewel in the second round, in a year when they didn’t have a first round pick. Let’s also hope that lightning can strike twice, and they can find another top talent in the second round this year. Carter Savoie, I’m talking about you.