Upon watching Nick Robertson strap on the skates and hit the ice for the first time in the blue and white, two things quickly became abundantly clear about the youngster: he’s fearless and more than capable of shaking off a bad play or two.
Suiting up for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2019 Traverse City Prospects Tournament in his home state of Michigan on Friday night, the 17-year-old didn’t make a good first impression on the team’s faithful that decided to tune in to the one-camera stream of the team’s clash with prospects within the St. Louis Blues’ system.
On his opening shift of the night, the 53rd selection in last summer’s draft turned the puck over in his own zone. Moments later, it was behind goaltender Ian Scott to put the Blues up 1-0. That didn’t deter the Peterborough Pete, though.
As the period continued to move along, he and his teammates began to find their stride. Skating alongside Yegor Korshkov and Petes teammate Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Robertson slowly became more dangerous as the period wore on and seemed to be comfortable once the middle stanza came around.
With the two sides knotted at two early in the second period, he found the puck and a bit of room in the high slot.
Robertson rips the high slot snipe. pic.twitter.com/UpI4Zr8e8X— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 7, 2019
That release is something to be at least a little giddy about.
After Blues’ forward Keean Washkurak was handed a penalty for jumping Robertson following some discussion between the two behind the play, one of Toronto’s newest recruits made him pay for it.
One timer Robertson rocket. pic.twitter.com/UkjB7TC2RO— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 7, 2019
Playing the left point on the team’s top power-play unit, Robertson took a pass from Teemu Kivihalme and hammered it past Joel Hofer. His second tally of the game doubled Toronto’s advantage to 4-2 at the time. (And — for good measure — he let Washkurak hear all about it, too.)
Toronto would go on to win the contest 6-2.
On top of his goal scoring, Robertson’s hustle and edge work impressed as well. In fact, it didn’t appear that he was playing in a prospects game. The effort that he put into the contest at both ends of the ice really made you believe he was competing for a spot on the Maple Leafs’ opening night roster during a pre-season contest in late September.
While that may be a few years away, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound speedster showed he has the skill and attitude required to play against older, larger competition. His play, in fact, had people comparing him to another Toronto Maple Leaf that wore No. 89: Alexander Mogilny.
Linking a second round pick that is only getting as much attention as he is because Toronto traded their 2019 first round selection to a man that collected more than 1,000 regular season points in his NHL career is bold. Yet, there’s no denying that the two know how to get around the ice with ease.
Yes, Robertson wasn’t taking on NHL veterans Friday night. However, his performance can at least help to alleviate some of the concerns fans have had about his size since the day he was selected.
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