One of the key takeaways from the Toronto Maple Leafs Development Camp was the instant chemistry that sparked between two of the organization’s brightest prospects – Nick Robertson and Alex Steeves.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews Learned to Play Hockey Without “Ice”
The Surprise of the Development Camp Was Not Robertson
The surprise was not that Robertson looked good in the camp, because he’s been proving himself for a couple of seasons now. He lit the OHL up in 2019-20 with the Peterborough Petes when he scored 55 goals and 31 assists in only 46 games. That was junior hockey, but nothing has suggested – other than two injuries last season – that he’s slowing down any time soon. He’s highly regarded within the Maple Leafs’ organization and might be the unanimous choice for the organization’s best prospect.
It was perhaps Alex Steeves who was the biggest surprise of the development camp. Steeves’ story is that he was born in Bedford, New Hampshire, after his Canadian parents moved there. Until Steeves joined Sioux City (Iowa) of the USHL while he was still in high school, he lived and played in New Hampshire.
Steeves played well; however, he wasn’t drafted by any NHL team. The word is that Steeves was overlooked in the NHL Entry Draft because his skating wasn’t up to par. However, Steeves’ work ethic, his fitness, and commitment to doing what it takes to be a good hockey player have turned him into a top prospect.
Steeves is also a sharp guy, which you can tell by listening to his interviews. He’s less than a year away from a business degree from the University of Notre Dame. While the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Steeves was playing for the Fighting Irish, he scored 15 goals and 32 points in 29 games and was names to the second team all-star in the Big Ten Conference.
Success for Both Steeves and Robertson at the Development Camp
As noted earlier, Steeves was a pleasant surprise of the development camp because of his work ethic, standout play, and attitude. In the scrimmage on Monday, he played mostly with Robertson and scored four goals as the Blue team beat the White team 6-0. Robertson, who constantly fed Steeves the puck, also scored a goal.
After the game, Robertson noted that he’d “never really had the pleasure of playing with (Steeves) until today … so it was great to get chemistry like that – just like that.”
Robertson noted that Steeves was a little bigger than he is and was good at digging pucks out of the corners. Always showing his scorer’s mentality, Robertson appreciated Steeves’ ability to “get in the corners and give me the puck (so he could) let me do my thing.”
Robertson also noted how the two new line-mates were mutually beneficial for each other. “He’s (Steeves) got a great shot. He can really shoot the puck.”
Then, without skipping a beat, Robertson noted “I can shoot the puck. If I can get it in his area, he can score. If he gets in mine, I can score. He’s a great asset, a great addition to the organization.”
Related: Why the Maple Leafs Will Beat the Canadiens and the Bruins in 2021-22
Off to Traverse City for More Competition with the Development Camps
The next step for the Maple Leafs’ prospects is to head to the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan, from the 16-20 of September. There Steeves, Robertson, and probably Robertson’s old line partner with the Petes, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, will play together as the team’s top line.
Steeves noted that “Nick Robertson and I were talking at the end of scrimmage, and we were like: Keep the mojo going in the right direction, play the same way, expect to have the same success in Traverse City.”
Steeves ended by saying that his goal for training camp has been to “just be the best version of myself, compete really hard, and make it really hard on the Leafs to send me down.”
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