Leafs Prospect Roundup: Nick Robertson is back, Rodion Amirov’s status, and the Olympics are here
Photo credit:Nick Barden
By Kyle Cushman1 year ago
It’s a news-oriented Toronto Maple Leafs prospect roundup this week with a prominent return, a player potentially coming over to North America sooner than anticipated, the Men’s Tournament at the Olympics beginning later this week, and a notable comment from Kyle Dubas’ media availability.
Nick Robertson | W | Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Three and a half months after suffering a non-displaced fracture of his right fibula in just the second game of the season, @Nicholas Robertson finally made his long-awaited return to the Marlies lineup last week.
It’s been a frustrating season, to say the least. Coming off of a 2020/21 season in which he was in and out of the lineup with injuries, Robertson was looking to build off a strong development camp and training camp to establish himself as one of the top talents in the AHL. He opened the season with two assists and five shots on goal but was quickly derailed just a day later.
The initial announcement stated that Robertson would not return earlier than 10 weeks following the injury. His return to the lineup on Wednesday was just over 15 weeks post-injury.
Robertson was kept off the scoresheet in his first game back on Wednesday but didn’t waste any time finding the back of the net in his second game on Saturday. He added an empty netter later in that one as well to give him two goals and four points through four AHL games.
Notice that Robertson cuts into the middle from the right wing on this eye-popping goal. Throughout his entire career, Robertson has been a left winger. Regardless of where he has played, Peterborough in the OHL, the Marlies in the AHL, even the Leafs in the NHL, has all been done as a left winger.
That was the case on Wednesday as well, listed as the left winger with @Semyon Der-Arguchintsev and @Joseph Blandisi. On Saturday, however, Robertson shifted over to the right wing with the Der-Arguchintsev and @Antti Suomela.
Given his lethal shot, becoming more comfortable as a right winger would make a lot of sense for Robertson. Playing on his off-wing would allow Robertson to cut into the middle for dangerous shooting opportunities, just see the clip above. The Maple Leafs currently have more opportunity for ice-time on the left wing and that’s likely where Robertson will slide into the NHL lineup in the future, but it is certainly not a bad thing for him to add some more versatility to where he can be used in the lineup.
I’ll be keeping a close eye on Robertson over the rest of the year. He simply hasn’t been able to get comfortable in the professional ranks given how inconsistently he’s been in the lineup. It’s easy to forget just how dominant his Draft +1 season was in the OHL. Once Robertson finds his groove at the AHL level, watch out.
Rodion Amirov | W | Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
Speaking of frustrating seasons, @Rodion Amirov has not played a game in over a month.
Now, this isn’t his fault per se, as his team also hasn’t played in over a month. COVID concerns have halted Salavat Yulaev Ufa’s season over the past few weeks, leading into the already scheduled break for the Olympics. What wasn’t anticipated, though, was the decision to end the KHL regular season immediately and move straight into the playoffs following the conclusion of the Olympics.
This is a notable development as it drastically speeds up the timeline for Amirov to come over to North America and join the Toronto Marlies. With this decision, the Gagarin Cup playoffs will begin on March 1, rather than being delayed to finish all of the postponed games from the regular season.
Once Salavat’s playoffs are finished, Amirov will be able to come over to North America and begin his career with the Marlies. They should enter the Gagarin Cup playoffs as the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference. If Salavat were to win their first-round matchup and lose in the second round, as they did in 2021, Amirov could be with the Marlies as soon as early April.
In his media availability on Sunday, Kyle Dubas addressed the tough season that Amirov has had, battling two significant injuries and struggling to get back in the Salavat lineup.
It’s been a tough one, because there’s been a medical situation that we’re working closely on with Salavat and Rodion. Obviously, at the end of last season when he came over here, and then getting the feedback from Salavat when he went there, we were thrilled. It’s just now, we’re dealing with a medical situation that we need to continue to work with them on to potentially get him back and rolling.
Men’s Olympic Tournament
A unique opportunity begins for prospects Matthew Knies, Nick Abruzzese, and @Pontus Holmberg later this week.
All three Leafs prospects will suit up for their countries at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, filling in positions that we were anticipating to be taken by the premier talents of the NHL. It’s incredibly frustrating that we won’t get to see the likes of @Auston Matthews and @Mitch Marner at the Games, but a fun tournament is still ahead.
2018 saw a great underdog story in Germany breakthrough to nearly snatch the gold medal away from Russia. There were also numerous talents that would later come over to the NHL, something we will certainly see once again in this year’s tournament.
In addition to the trio of “official” Leafs prospects, @Josh Ho-Sang of the Marlies will be making his Team Canada debut. He’ll be looking to parlay a strong performance at the Games into an NHL contract.
Here is the schedule for Canada, Sweden, and USA for the week ahead (all times are EST):
- Sweden vs. Latvia, Wednesday, 11:10 pm EST
- USA vs. China, Thursday, 8:10 am
- Canada vs. Germany, Thursday, 8:10 am
- Sweden vs. Slovakia, Friday, 3:40 am
- Canada vs. USA, Friday, 11:10 pm
- Sweden vs. Finland, Sunday, 3:40 am
- Canada vs. China, Sunday, 8:10 am
- USA vs. Germany, Sunday, 8:10 am
Leafs may sign Marlies forward
Much attention has been given to Josh Ho-Sang’s status with the Marlies this season, which is no surprise given his notoriety and pedigree. But he isn’t the only candidate to sign an NHL contract with the Marlies this year, something Kyle Dubas noted in his media availability on Sunday.
I think we’ve got a few guys down there that are pushing. Josh has a much longer pedigree and has been in the public eye for a long time so he gets a lot of the conversation and he’ll be in that mix as we head towards the deadline. There are a few guys on AHL deals that have played very well. Josh, Joseph Blandisi, he’s on a tryout, Antti Suomela, Curtis Douglas. They’ve done a good job there with the Marlies getting those guys up and running. They are all different players. Josh is the most individually talented of the group as we all know, but the others have different elements that I think can help the team as well. We’ll continue to monitor that we make those decisions closer to the deadline, I’d say.
Ho-Sang is 26, while Joseph Blandisi and @Antti Suomela are 27. Those three would be NHL depth options in case of an injury to the NHL lineup, rather than fitting into the definition of a prospect.
Curtis Douglas, on the other hand, is still very much a prospect. Drafted in 2018, Douglas turns 22 next month and is only in his second professional season. Signed to an AHL contract, he is a developmental project with the Marlies that has shown positive results this season.
Douglas is a fascinating prospect not because of gaudy point totals (his 15 points in 34 games with the Marlies are nothing special), but because of his size. He is listed at 6-foot-8 and 249 pounds on the Marlies website. As a centre with that size, he’s a unique player that given his success as a bottom-six player this year with the Marlies, would be worthy of signing to an entry-level contract and continuing to work with him past this season.
If Douglas were to sign an NHL contract with the Leafs, he would be the sixth AHL-signed prospect to later be signed to an entry-level contract by Toronto in the time Kyle Dubas has been with the team. @Byron Froese, @Justin Holl, @Mason Marchment, @Kristians Rubins, and @Pavel Gogolev are the previous ones.
Statistics from Elite Prospects
More from theleafsnation.com
Recent articles from Kyle Cushman