What should the Leafs do with Nick Robertson?

Ben Hodgson
November 27, 2022  (8:36 PM)

Don't look now, but the Leafs are kind of on a roll with three straight wins and a 9-1-3 record in the month of November so far. They've overcome what should have been devastating injuries to their goaltenders and their D corps, but through all of it, the Leafs sit 4th in the NHL and second in the Atlantic Division. To be honest, they aren't giving us a whole lot to complain about.

If there is one thing to be upset about, it's Nick Robertson. The highly touted winger just hasn't been able to seize a roster spot, despite showing solid work ethic and flashes of brilliance. For reasons unknown, Robertson seems to have a much shorter leash than those around him. Alexander Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall spring to mind as players that could benefit from watching a couple of games from the press box. If the Leafs aren't going to play Robertson, they need to do something with him.
It's been pointed out by both Sheldon Keefe and Robertson that being up with the big team has its perks, even as a healthy scratch. Robertson practices with the team, is a part of the locker room and gets an NHL sized paycheque. The problem is that the best thing for his development is game action. He's played just 11 games this year with the Leafs, despite a strong pre-season and scoring at a respectable 37-point pace. At this point, I'm not sure what Keefe's bar is for Robertson to stay in the lineup. What I do know, is that this inconsistent playing time isn't helping Robertson find a rhythm in the NHL.
So what do the Leafs do? The team is heating up and catering to a single player can throw a wrench into things, but Robertson needs to be given opportunities to learn, which means he could make a few mistakes. They could send him to the Marlies, where he would play big minutes, but he's already been dominant at the AHL level... he won't learn anything new there. Another option - they could explore trading him. There's definitely value there, and teams would be interested. I don't like the idea of giving up on such a skilled prospect without giving him a fair shake at the NHL level.
Until the Leafs either need a roster shakeup or lose yet another player to injury, it's not likely we'll see Robertson getting consistent playing time. In my opinion, he needs a 10-game tryout. Keep him in the lineup, let him build some chemistry and get into the rhythm of being an NHL regular. If he hasn't solidified himself by the end of 10 games, then you look at moving him either back to the AHL or as part of a package to bring in an impact player. A player of Robertson's potential doesn't come around all that often outside of the first round. Helping him reach his potential should be very high on the Leafs list of priorities for this season.
What should the Leafs do with Nick Robertson?

You're GM Kyle Dubas; what do you do with Nick Robertson?

Demote him to the AHL246.4 %
Ensure that he gets consistent NHL playing time20353.8 %
Trade him in a package for an impact player15039.8 %
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