Leafs winger Nick Robertson reading the play
Photo credit: NHL

Leafs sending Nick Robertson a message following his recent comments about his brief AHL assignment

Published March 14, 2024 at 11:04
BY MIKE ARMENTI

For Nicholas Robertson, the start to his professional career was well below what anyone would consider ideal. After lighting the OHL on fire in his final season in junior, Robertson joined the Leafs for their qualifying round of the playoffs against the Blue Jackets back in 2020, scoring 1 goal in 4 games in a 3-2 series loss to an underdog Columbus team. The disappointment in Toronto was easy to feel, but with Robertson in the fold, the future appeared to be very bright.

Unfortunately for Robertson, his first pro season lasted just 27 total games split between the NHL and AHL due to a significant injury. His 2021-22 season, too, was derailed by injury, lasting just 38 games. In 2022-23, Robertson played just 17 games split between the NHL and AHL. Are you sensing a pattern here?

With durability being the biggest concern, and with Robertson being one of very few waiver exempt players on the team, the Leafs opted to have Robertson begin his season this year with the Marlies. His stay in the American Hockey League wasn't long, however, as Robertson suited up in just 9 games for the Marlies before being called up by the Leafs. Surprisingly, Robertson has been healthy all season, but that hasn't prevented him from spending stretches in the press box as an extra and being demoted ahead of the deadline to give the Leafs some additional cap flexibility. This did not sit well with the 22-year-old.

Last week, Robertson revealed that he was not happy with the demotion. He was quoted as saying, "I understand it, but I'm not going to sit here and say I'm happy. I want to play." He also added, "I've been in plenty of situations here where the waivers have kind of screwed me. So, like I said, I'm numb to it."


When the Leafs recalled Robertson after the deadline had passed, many had expected that he'd be re-inserted into the lineup right away. However, that hasn't happened. During the last two practices, Robertson has skated as an extra and I'm beginning to wonder if it's the team sending him a message following his comments.

Being a team player is important, regardless of a player's age. But for a young player to go public with his displeasure over how the team is managing him, entirely ignoring the business side of the game, perhaps a few games in the press box will humble him a bit.

Robertson has performed decently well this season in the role in which he has been cast, largely relegated to bottom-six duty. In 41 games with the Leafs this season, Robertson has amassed 8 goals and 19 points in a little over 11 minutes of ice time per night on average. There is room for improvement for sure, but there's no denying that he's been helpful and productive this season in a depth role with a revolving door of different linemates.

If Robertson does head to the press box starting tonight, he can handle this one of two ways. He can either take the message, learn from it, and put the team first or he can maintain his level of frustration, allow it to affect him even more than it already has, and may find himself on his way out of town this summer in the form of a release or a trade, whether by the team's hand or through a formal trade request.

Robertson is a pending restricted free agent and does not have arbitration rights this summer, so he's pretty limited in his options.
POLL
March 14   |   676 answers
Leafs sending Nick Robertson a message following his recent comments about his brief AHL assignment

Do you think Robertson being a scratch tonight is about sending him a message following his comments to the media about being frustrated with his demotion?

Yes32147.5 %
No, just a coincidence27640.8 %
Send him down to the minors for the rest of 23-247911.7 %
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