Nick Robertson Could Provide the One Thing the Toronto Maple Leafs Have Been Missing

Toronto Maple Leafs -Nicholas Robertson (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs -Nicholas Robertson (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are built around elite players who were selected at the top of the draft.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been very successful at the top of the draft.

If you look at the Sabres, who had a similar amount of high picks but whiffed on a couple, you can see how drafting high isn’t a guarantee of success.

But if you look at the teams that have been successful over the last decade, you can see that there is one thing they all have in common that the Leafs are missing.

Namely, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs are missing an elite player who was picked lower in the draft.

The Penguins, Bruins, Lightning, Blackhawks, and Kings all have a potential hall of fame player who they took randomly landed in the second round or later.

The Leafs might have found that in Nick Robertson

Toronto Maple Leafs and Nick Robertson

The reason why every team that has maintained a level of success across multiple seasons has player like this isn’t a coincidence.

The salary cap demands it.

But so does the cycle of competitive teams.  Once you draft a couple of players who are good enough to be super-stars on their entry-level contracts, you’re not going to be picking at the top of the draft any longer.

So hitting on a superstar randomly with a lower pick becomes essential.

Rasmus Sandin was picked 29th overall. While this is still in the first round, it’s lower enough to not matter – teams just don’t get impact players (generally) at this spot.

Nick Robertson was picked 53rd overall.  If either of these players becomes stars, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to be unstoppable.

If they both become stars, the Leafs will be the best team anyone has seen in the salary cap era.

Next year, both will be NHL regulars, and both will be making (roughly) the league minimum on entry-level deals.

It’s an advantage that is almost impossible to overstate in a salary cap league.

Nick Robertson on the left side of Auston Matthews and William Nylander is going to be absolutely insane.

This is a player who was the youngest of his draft years. Had he been born four days later, he’d be going at the top of this year’s draft.  Not first or second maybe, but almost assuredly top ten.

Top 5 Potential UFAs for the Leafs to Sign. dark. Next

If Sandin and Robertson can be above average NHL players starting next season the Leafs are going to be in extremely good shape.

When they finally have their low-drafted superstar, they will unstoppable.