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Is Maple Leafs’ Nick Robertson Bound for the AHL – Again & Again?

The Toronto Maple Leafs top prospect is likely Nick Robertson. Why is he having such a tough time breaking into the team’s lineup?

Nick Robertson burst on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ scene when he scored 55 goals in the OHL in 2019-20. He’s been hanging out near the top of the organization’s prospect pool ever since. But do you think that would get him a taste of the big club’s roster? The answer is not yet.

Related: 3 Things Make Maple Leafs Matthews an Unstoppable Force

Robertson Has Faced Two Big Problems Breaking into the Maple Leafs Lineup

Part of the problem is that it’s tough breaking into the lineup of a really solid team. That’s also complicated by the fact that Robertson is what he is – and that’s a goal-scoring phenom. He isn’t the kind of a player who can slot into the fourth line and then move up the lineup gradually. He’s more the kind of player who will likely flourish on the top-six, but who might falter in the bottom-six.

Nick Robertson, Maple Leafs

A second problem that Robertson has faced is injuries. He’s all but made the team two times out of training camp. However, he suffered early-season injuries that knocked him out of the lineup for long periods. In January 2021, during his first NHL regular season game against the Ottawa Senators, he suffered a knee injury that took him out of the season.

Last season, he suffered a non-displaced right fibula fracture last October that kept him out of the Marlies lineup until February. His luck has been all bad.


So Where Does Robertson Fit on this Maple Leafs’ Team?

Where might Robertson fit if he’s going to find a spot on the Maple Leafs’ roster? If things stay the same as they were last season, his spot won’t be on the first line. Michael Bunting, who came in third in the Calder Trophy voting, seems a no-brainer to continue in with his role with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs

The second line of William Nylander and John Tavares has veteran Alex Kerfoot riding the wing. It might not be the sexiest line in the NHL, but it’s functional and usually outplays its opponents. Kerfoot had his career high of 51 points – mostly playing on that second line. Again, why fix something that isn’t broken?

So, Is It the AHL for Robertson?

Robertson is waiver-exempt. That makes him likely the easiest move for the Maple Leafs’ coaching staff to make – down to the Marlies and then back up as needed. It would make sense that, unless there were an injury to fill or unless Robertson absolutely shines during training camp, Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas might just establish Robertson as a full-time AHL player. Then he could react with Robertson whenever he’s needed.

Nick Robertson, with the Toronto Marlies

The organization could then, as needed, utilize Robertson’s easy waiver-exempt movement down and up regularly during the season. That way Robertson could earn more of a look-see if he performs well. If not, back and forth.

It’s really tough to tell where the young forward fits. I for one, hope his hard work is rewarded with a solid opportunity. He just might only need one more chance.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Lundkvist, Sandin, Giordano & Kampf



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