All aboard the Nicholas Robertson hype train, everyone.
After making a mockery of the Ontario Hockey League last season, the Maple Leafs’ second-round pick from 2019 could be ready to make the jump earlier than expected. Kyle Dubas himself even said so. According to Chris Johnston, Dubas said that the Leafs will give Robertson a legitimate opportunity to crack the roster off the hop next season.
Kyle Dubas on prospect Nick Robertson: Come training camp, we'll give him every opportunity to make the team.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 31, 2020
Robertson being ready to take the next step gives Dubas some added flexibility when putting together his roster over the off-season. We’ve heard plenty of talk about Kasper Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, or Alex Kerfoot being moved in order to free up salary cap room or to address holes elsewhere on the roster, so having Robertson ready makes it easier to move on from one or more of those players.
Robertson posted 55 goals and 86 points in 46 games for the Peterborough Petes this season. His goal total was the 29th highest ever in the OHL for a player under the age of 19 years old. Had the season not been cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Robertson probably would have found himself in the top-10 of that list with names like John Tavares, Eric Lindros, and Patrick Kane.
It’s hard to imagine he has anything left to prove at the OHL level. Given that the AHL isn’t an option, it seems the NHL is the next step.