The Toronto Maple Leafs are not a team that is afraid to take chances.
This year the Toronto Maple Leafs fired Team Canada and Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Babcock and replaced him with a rookie.
Despite pathetic attempts to run William Nylander out of town, the Leafs management held their ground and kept the superstar winger when nearly every other management team they’ve ever had would have folded like a cheap suit.
And they had no problem trading away their most popular player in exchange for an analytics darling whose game style was never going to be popular with a fanbase that routinely chooses the appearance of effort over the demonstrable existence of skill.
To say nothing of the universally derided salary cap strategy that is mathematically sound, but requires, on the part of the unconverted, a complete re-assessing of how to value NHL Players.
And so with the dawn of the NHL Playoffs potentially only ten days away, the Toronto Maple Leafs appear ready to promote a rookie straight from the OHL to the spotlight.
Yes, it appears that Nick Robertson will make the Leafs.
Toronto Maple Leafs to Play Top Prospect
It appears that Robertson’s recent addition to the main lineup was not just as a place holder.
Nick Robertson had 55 goals in 46 games this season in the OHL (hockeydb.com).
He’s a goal scoring machine who can be deployed on a team as deep as Toronto is as a weapon. It would be criminal to leave him off the team.
The Leafs already have a ridiculous third line that features Alex Kerfoot and Kasperi Kapanen, two of the NHL’s fastest skaters. Although Kapanen didn’t have the greatest year, he’s still miles ahead of a normal third liner.
Kerfoot played most of the year on the wing with Tavares, scoring at the same rate Tavares did, was worth 1.4 WAR in a league where 4 gets you Hart Trophy consideration, and providing the Leafs with their best defensive forward.
Add in a guy who scored over a goal-per-game and the Leafs – who already have 2 x first lines, both among the best in the NHL – and it gives the Leafs arguably the best 3rd line in the NHL.
Consider that this team might yet add Andreas Johnsson to the lineup and its crazy that people don’t consider them a Cup Favorite.
It’s amazing the Robertson is going to play, but it does appear to be coming at the expense of Pierre Engvall, which is unfortunate because he brings way more to the table than Freddie Gauthier does.
Why are the Leafs so progressive and interesting, and then so frustratingly attached to Cody Ceci and Freddie Gauthier?
It is a mystery for another time. For now, let’s enjoy the fact that we might not only get to watch some Leafs hockey soon, but also get to see Nick Robertson far earlier than we thought.