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Nick Roberston’s Risky Career Move May Lead to Maple Leafs Exit

Nick Robertson’s choice to have surgery last season might have cost him a spot on the Toronto Maple Leafs, and potentially forever.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe faces a pivotal decision regarding the future of forward Nick Robertson as training camp gets underway. Once deemed the Leafs’ top prospect, Robertson has fallen down the ladder in terms of where he ranks as a potential impact player for the organization. Not to mention, a notable development in camp is the presence of Noah Gregor on a professional tryout (PTO), potentially vying for the last slot on the Leafs’ fourth line. In a way, he’s competition for Robertson. That said, it was a career decision by Robertson that potentially opened up a spot for Gregor to win in the first place.

Robertson chose to undergo shoulder surgery last season, which limited his NHL experience heading into this year’s camp. As Joshua Kloke of The Athletic explains in a recent article, in December 2022, when Robertson sustained his shoulder injury, he confronted a significant decision. Consulting with three doctors, Robertson received a consensus that surgery carried a substantial likelihood of a better long-term outcome. While potentially an easy choice for some, for Robertson, this posed a dilemma: he had only logged 51 games with the Marlies and 31 regular-season NHL games over the past three seasons, hardly sufficient for someone so fervently dedicated to an NHL career to cement his spot on the roster when he returned.

Nick Robertson Toronto Maple Leafs NHL
Nick Robertson Toronto Maple Leafs NHL

Balancing his long-term prospects with immediate concerns, Robertson recognized that the 2023-24 season loomed as a make-or-break period for his Leafs future, given his entry-level contract’s impending conclusion. He could have avoided surgery and come back at around 70-80%, but he also could easily re-injure himself. It wasn’t an easy decision. He chose to have the surgery and while his chances of a full recovery are much greater now, he’s potentially lost his spot on the team.

This Won’t Deter Robertson From Trying to Make the Maple Leafs Roster

Robertson’s resolve remains unwavering, as he’s determined to secure his place in the NHL. Despite acknowledging that his resume may not carry the same weight it once did, he embraces the challenge. “I know my name isn’t what it used to be. I don’t give a f—,” he said. “I believe. I believe in anything.”

Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving has emphasized this off-season the need to pave a path for the organization’s promising young players. Robertson is certainly in that mix. However, Robertson’s waivers-exempt status for this season could lead to frequent trips back and forth between the Leafs and the Marlies. That too will make it hard for him to secure a spot if he doesn’t come out firing on all cylinders.

Will Work Ethic and Determination Be Enough?

Treliving recognizes Robertson’s commitment and work ethic but acknowledges that injuries have posed challenges. The question is, are these challenges too great and is Robertson too far gone now? If the Maple Leafs don’t feel confident he’ll be able to return to the levels they once predicted for him, a trade is certainly a possibility.

Nonetheless, Treliving asserts that everyone within the organization has a chance, leaving the door open for Robertson to fulfill his aspiration of playing in the NHL, free from injuries.

Robertson’s determination is palpable, and he remains steadfast in his pursuit of reaching the pinnacle of the sport. As the Maple Leafs’ training camp unfolds, the spotlight is on Nick Robertson as he seeks to overcome the obstacles and finally establish himself as an injury-free, NHL-caliber player. If he doesn’t, expect rumors to swirl around the player and the team as they look for someone who can make more of an impact.

Next: Steven Stamkos Issues in Tampa Open Door to Joining Maple Leafs

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  1. Pingback: Auston Matthews is Being Asked To Do A First For Him in The NHL

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