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Is Nick Robertson Becoming a Key Part of Maple Leafs’ Future?

Nick Robertson had his best game of the season after Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe praised him. What happens next?

At one time, Nicholas Robertson (Nick) was the Toronto Maple Leafs number-one prospect. However, injuries limited his growth. This season, he’s stayed healthy. As a result, the Maple Leafs are starting to see how good Robertson might be as an offensive player. Recent games have shown Robertson’s growing influence, prompting discussions about his potential elevation to the top six forwards.

In Wednesday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, Keefe’s trust in Robertson was evident as he placed the youngster on the first line. This move wasn’t done on a whim. Robertson earned the promotion because he had injected much-needed energy into the lineup. Keefe acknowledged Robertson’s impact, emphasizing the spark he brought to the team.

In the video below, you can see and hear Keefe’s comments about the young winger. Interestingly enough, the interview on the video was done just before the Jets game.

Robertson, According to Coach Keefe, Has Done Lots of Things Right This Season

In the interview, Keefe highlighted Robertson’s contributions to the team. He noted the youngster’s ability to maintain a positive attitude, work ethic, and readiness for the opportunities he would likely have. Keefe emphasized the challenge for players to showcase their skills after a period of limited play; however, he noted that Robertson had met this challenge well. The coach commended Robertson for being able to seamlessly integrate back into the lineup and, when he got there, providing a noticeable boost.

Against the Jets, in a game where the entire Maple Leafs roster struggled to find its rhythm, Robertson stood out from the other players. The energy he injected into the game when he was on the ice was obvious. His speed and tenacity on the puck were apparent.

Related: Multiple Scouts at Leafs vs. Jets: Where Are Leafs at On Trade Talk?

As a result, he contributed positively to the team’s overall performance. Robertson was firing the puck and put up an impressive four shots on the goal. As a result, Keefe gave him a well-deserved promotion to the top six in the third period.

Robertson’s Hard Work Led to the Maple Leafs Game-Winning Goal

At this point, Robertson’s real ability started to kick in. The pinnacle of Robertson’s standout play came during a crucial overtime shift. After his team killed a penalty that had carried over from the third period, Robertson found himself on the ice with two of the team’s most elite players – Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly.

The sequence that ensued showcases Robertson’s hockey IQ and his playmaking abilities. He disrupted a pass attempt by the Jets’ Neal Pionk, chased down a puck, protected the puck from a checking Jets player, and got a nice pass to Rielly, who then set up Matthews for the game-winning goal. Robertson’s hard work showed skill beyond his NHL experience on the ice. The young guy can play!

Nick Robertson Maple Leafs NHL

One interesting aspect of Robertson’s overtime assist was that he was not on the ice when the winning goal was scored. His hard work was the catalyst for the goal, and he registered an assist because he passed the puck to Rielly who then passed it to Matthews for the score. However, oddly enough, he was not credited with a plus-1 on the goal. Instead, William Nylander – who just stepped onto the ice when Matthews scored – got the plus-1. [I have to wonder when was the last time a player got an assist in a 1-0 game but not a plus-1 rating.]

Robertson’s Growing Impact with the Maple Leafs

As a reward for his good work, Robertson was given a season-high 17:08 minutes of ice time. That bump in ice time suggests the trust he’s been earning from the Maple Leafs coaching staff. The question remains: what happens next for Robertson? Will he get more time in the team’s top six?

As the Maple Leafs return after the All-Star break, it will be interesting to see where Robertson lands on the team. Looking at his statistics, when compared with Tyler Bertuzzi, suggests that Robertson might add more scoring to the top-six units. Might it be wise to explore a flip, and put Bertuzzin on the third line? Has Robertson earned that consideration?

Robertson’s emergence as a dynamic offensive force in the lineup is interesting. Will his impactful performances help solidify his role in the top six? Can he become a more important component in the team’s quest for success?

The point is that Robertson is making a strong case for a bigger role in the Maple Leafs’ lineup. Where might he land – both this season and next?

Related: Maple Leafs’ Hard-Fought OT Win vs. Jets: Important Takeaways



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