The Toronto Maple Leafs Have No Choice With Nick Robertson

Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Nicholas Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

Will Nick Robertson become a full-time member of the Toronto Maple Leafs this season?

With the recent news that the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be loaning Nick Robertson to the American World Juniors team, many are wondering what the team’s plans are for their top prospect.

I’m here today to tell you that the team has no choice: Nick Robertson will be a Leaf.

Robertson’s commitment and drive to become a full-time NHL’er is exactly the type of attitude that Sheldon Keefe has always valued in players and it is one that is sorely needed in the Leafs’ locker room, given how many times the team looked completely lethargic last season.

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Missing out on an opportunity to showcase his talents at the World Juniors will light an extra fire under him to perform and push him to give that 110% effort that will be needed to show that he belongs with the Leafs.

Of course, there are some legitimate reasons why he shouldn’t make the jump to the NHL yet- he could better maximize his playing time elsewhere, the team would have an extra year before his entry-level contract would kick in, and it could be harmful to his development if it becomes apparent that he’s playing well above his level (similar to what happened an era ago with Luke Schenn).

However, with all of that in mind, Robertson’s best shot at success is to be a member of the Leafs roster this season. He’s far surpassed the skill level of his peers in the OHL, so sending him back there for another year would do nothing for his development.

In an ideal world, he’d spend this year as a top-liner in the AHL or even in Newfoundland with the ECHL, but due to the CHL rules, he’s ineligible for assignment to the AHL and, as previously reported, the Growlers have opted out of this season. It also doesn’t make sense to assign him to a team in Europe, as it’s not their job to develop Robertson for the Leafs. It’s unlikely that any professional European team would put Nick in the best position to succeed.

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Robertson’s best shot at becoming an everyday NHL player lies in him being a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he may not play all 56 games, in fact, it’s unlikely, but the direct supervision of the coaching staff and extra development that could be garnered from practicing with his NHL teammates is, in all likelihood, his best chance.