Nick Robertson could be the Toronto Maple Leafs secret weapon

Nick Robertson #16 (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
Nick Robertson #16 (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images) /

Nick Robertson could give the Toronto Maple Leafs a much-needed boost.

When the Toronto Maple Leafs get back onto the ice they’ll have a fresh new face looking to earn an opportunity to start his pro-hockey career. Nick Robertson, Toronto’s 2019 second-round draft pick, will be a part of the club’s expanded playoff roster as he looks to crack the lineup when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Robertson had a cup of coffee with the Maple Leafs during training camp for the 2019-20 season but was quickly sent back to the OHL. Deemed too young and small at only 18-years old and a 5-foot-9 frame, Robertson excelled back in the OHL, leading the league in scoring with 55 goals, three more goals than the second-leading scorer, Jack Quinn, despite Robertson playing 16 fewer games than Quinn.

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With 55 goals and 86 points in 46 games for the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, the Maple Leafs believe Robertson could be a secret weapon when the puck drops in these unique times. In what would normally be a questionable move, adding a teenager right before the playoffs, it could be a move that significantly pays off for Toronto.

It was announced Andreas Johnsson won’t be ready to return this season as he’s still recovering from knee surgery. At a time when many other Eastern Conference teams will be getting key players back from injuries they would not have had in April, the confirmation of Johnsson’s loss is a difficult void to fill.

Adding Robertson’s goal scoring could help soften the blow from Johnsson’s loss. However, it still remains to be seen if Robertson will actually crack the lineup. There is some belief the return to play could be easier for younger players than older players as a result of the extended layoff, which could help the winger’s chances.

It’s also important to note as far back as the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championships, where Robertson was a point-per-game player for Team USA, scouts were projecting Robertson could make an impact at the 2020-21 Maple Leafs’ training camp that was schedule for September.

It was believed the leap he had taken in his development and would continue to take during the 2019-20 OHL season, could see him in competition for a roster spot for next season. Given some scouts were theorizing Robertson could be ready for the NHL in September, it makes sense the Maple Leafs would bring him in for a tournament that likely won’t begin until the start of August.

In a move that could be related to how strongly Toronto thinks of Robertson, during their decision making regarding which AHL players to add to their expanded playoff roster, the Maple Leafs sent winger Jeremy Bracco home. Bracco was told he would not be needed despite having the third-highest point total on the Toronto Marlies.

Robertson has admitted to adding weight and muscle during his time away from the rink, something he’ll need if he hopes to compete against a physical Blue Jackets team. The focus will be on his size and whether or not he can be pushed around too easily. However, no one doubts his offensive skill set and ability to put the puck in the net.

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Pairing Robertson on the wing with someone like John Tavares and his playmaking could provide the Maple Leafs with an offensive boost they didn’t have back in March. A boost the club will need if they hope to finally make a deep run in the playoffs.