Is Connor Dewar More Valuable to the Leafs Than Nick Robertson?

Calgary Flames v Toronto Maple Leafs
Calgary Flames v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

There is a lot of support for Nick Robertson among followers of the Toronto Maple Leafs, with many saying he should be given a bigger opportunity to prove himself within the club’s top 6 forwards.  Robertson has been one of Toronto’s most-hyped prospects since being drafted 53rd overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

He has also proven that he can score in the NHL and win his minutes while getting a regular shift on a competitive team. Connor Dewar, on the other hand, was a low-key acquisition byToronto Maple LeafsGeneral Manager Brad Treliving at this year’s trade deadline.  Dewar was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the third round of the 2018 draft, going 92nd overall.  Since joining the Leafs, there’s been very little said about his addition, either good or bad.

Both of these players have something valuable to contribute, so let’s dig a little deeper and see which one is actually more valuable to the Leafs.

For two guys currently slotted into very different roles, they have remarkable similar backgrounds.  In his final year of junior hockey, Robertson led the OHL's Peterborough Petes in scoring with 55 goals and 86 points in only 46 games (stats from  Dewar topped off his junior career leading the WHL's Everett Silvertips with 36 goals and 81 points in 59 games.

So, both players came from a scoring pedigree.  In the AHL, Robertson (who is only 22 years old) has scored at a rate of 0.95 points per game over 60 games.  Dewar (24 years old) compares with a scoring rate of 0.57 ppg over 103 AHL games.

Over the last 4 seasons, Robertson has struggled to stay in the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup partially due to injuries and inconsistent play, but mostly because its extremely hard for non-blue-chip prospects to make an impact on a competitve Cup Contending tream. His NHL scoring stats are less impressive than they were at lower levels, coming in at 28 points over 79 games (0.35 ppg), but if you focus on just this year where he's been a regular for the first time, he's scored goals at one of the highest rates on the team.

Dewar’s NHL offensive output has been even less than Robertson’s.  In his 3 NHL seasons to date, Dewar has played more than double the games of Robertson (181), but has put up only 39 points (0.22 ppg).

What about physical attributes?  Robertson is 5’9”, 178 lbs, and is a fast skater.  Dewar is slightly bigger, coming in at 5’10” and 183 lbs, and is also quite fast.

Toronto Maple Leafs Needs Determine Who Is More Valuable

Note that Dewar is two years older than Robertson, and seems to have accepted the fact that he will not stay in the NHL based on his scoring (or lack of such).  Thus, he has embraced a different role as a bottom-six forechecker, penalty killer, and energy guy.

Every team requires a couple of players like this, thus his acquisition by the Toronto Maple Leafs in anticipation of the upcoming playoffs.  The team had a need, and Dewar fills it, while using up very little of the team’s salary cap space.

The problem for Robertson is that he needs to play consistently in an offensive role (ie top-six) in order to develop that potential, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have too many established forwards ahead of him to grant that opportunity.  Robertson has been fine in a top-nine role in the regular season, but he is not ahead of Nylander, Knies, Marner, Bertuzzi, Jarnkrok or McMann at this point, which means on a healthy Leafs roster he is going to have to beat out Connor Dewar for a 4th line winger spot.

Considering that Dewar can team with Kampf to give the Leafs a decent shut-down line, and he can kill penalties, he's got a leg up on Robertson for this role. Even if the Leafs wanted Robertson's scoring in the lineup, pairing him with Kampf would prevent him from scoring much, so it makes sense to value Dewar more for this role.

This means that today, Connor Dewar is more valuable to the Leafs than Nick Robertson, simply because of the team’s needs.  However, this doesn't include Robertson's value to the team as a legit NHL scorer who can come off the bench and fill in higher up in the lineup when an injury inevitably occurs.


Robertson would likely already be an NHL regular on a worse team, but his role as "next man up" is going to be exgtremely imporant should the Leafs wish to go on a long playoff run. He's far more valuable to the Lefas than Dewar long-term, but for now, if the Leafs lineup is healthy, Dewar will start and Robertson won't.