Sheldon Keefe reveals that Nick Robertson's path back to the NHL is reliant on how other players perform

Mike Armenti
November 18, 2022  (6:56 PM)

After a loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, many were expecting that Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe may make a few roster tweaks prior to Saturday's game against the Buffalo Sabres. On Friday, we found out during practice that that simply may not be the case.

One player who is stuck in limbo right now is 21-year-old Nick Robertson, who was once again skating in a grey jersey, typically reserved for extra skaters, which means that he's likely to be a healthy scratch for a third straight game. Robertson had not produced a point in his previous 3 outings, which Keefe felt warranted pulling him out of the lineup. How and when will he get back in? Well, Keefe stated on Friday that there's no simple answer to that question.
"At this point, it's probably what others don't do."

-Keefe on what Robertson needs to do get back into the Leafs' lineup

Ouch. If you're Robertson, that must have hurt to hear. The 2019 2nd round pick has now played in just 26 NHL games in his career, notching just 10 points - 5 of which have come this season. That doesn't exactly scream *top six winger* and he simply isn't a fit for the bottom six at this point. In other words, he feels destined for another stint in the AHL or could even be dangled as a trade chip if the Leafs have lost faith that he can become an impact player.
In terms of why there is no spot currently available to Nicky Bobby, the Buds have Alexander Kerfoot playing in the top six and have rookie center Pontus Holmberg playing on the team's third line. Keefe views Holmberg as the better roster option, given the fact that he's a natural center, meaning that he would not have to force someone like Engvall or Kerfoot to play center. In addition, Denis Malgin seems to have augmented Zach Aston-Reese and David Kampf extremely well on the Leafs' 4th line.
Tough break for Robertson, who has been patient up to this point. Frankly, I don't think a trade request would shock anyone at this point.
Sheldon Keefe reveals that Nick Robertson's path back to the NHL is reliant on how other players perform

What should the Leafs do with Nick Robertson?

Send him down4713.3 %
Play him in the top six13036.8 %
Play him in the bottom six6719 %
Trade him10930.9 %
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