Nicholas Robertson is one of the most fun players available for the 2019 NHL draft. A highly skilled, flashy forward in Robertson, he wasn’t content with cheating his way through the OHL by just relying on his natural talent. He’s got a relentless motor and earns everything he does out on the ice. In a way he’s a breath of fresh air, with so many highly skilled players not putting in the extra effort to make an impact.
It’s very easy to appreciate Robertson’s style of play. High skill. High compete. It culminated into an impressive season with the Peterborough Petes where he asserted himself as a potential first rounder for the 2019 NHL draft.
|Birthday||September 11, 2001|
Skating: 50 – Puck Skills: 55 – Hockey IQ/Sense: 55 – Physicality: 45
Robertson bursted onto the scene at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in September and was excellent. As the third youngest player participating in the tournament he managed to score 4 goals and 5 points in 5 games. He showcased his creativity on one of the biggest stages and it would boost him on to a fantastic draft year in the OHL which only saw him shoot up the ranks. He registered 27 goals and 55 points in 54 games, which is ultra impressive as a September 2001 birthday. Robertson has a huge advantage in terms of development time because he just made the cut-off date for 2019 draft eligibility by four days, making him one of the youngest players in this draft.
Statistics via eliteprospects.com, chart via prospect-stats.com
Robertson was able to produce at this rate for his age because of the high skill level he possesses. He’s not afraid to show it either, putting his pucks skills on display on the regular. He’s got a knack for beating defenders one-on-one with quick hands and dangles. Despite his smaller size (5’9”) he is fearless in his rushes up ice. He attacks with a full head of steam and closes the gap very quickly. It’s quite rare for a player of such small stature to overwhelm and strike fear in his opponents the way Robertson does. He’s almost an annoyance for defensemen because they know they are capable of knocking him down on his arse…but just can’t.
He’s like that tiny fly in your house that just won’t go away.
What’s very appealing about Robertson is he is threatening in a variety of ways. He is both dangerous as both sniper and playmaker. Diving into his shot, he has mastered the art of the curl and drag release. He is capable of changing the angle of his shot and using the defender as a screen. He has shown the ability of scoring from range, however, I don’t see him being a triggerman at the next level. I’d much rather station him on the goal-line or half-wall, rather than the top of the right circle on the powerplay.
As a playmaker he can execute the flashy spinorama, saucer pass through the royal road type feeds. His vision is top-notch and he can find his teammates in prime scoring position. In large part due to the attention he commands when driving through the neutral zone — catching defenders off guard as someone sneaks back-door. That plays a major factor in why 42 of his 55 points were primary.
But as mentioned before, the true calling-card to Robertson’s game is his high compete level. He doesn’t allow his size to be a disadvantage when he is away from the puck. You do have to think there is some room for him to grow more — with his brother Jason (Dallas Stars prospect) measuring in at 6’2” 201 lb. Nevertheless, Nick hits everything in sight and never takes his foot off the gas. He’s like a golf cart with a brick on the gas pedal.
Robertson is a very easy player to appreciate. Skill and intensity complement each other so well. He’s the classic “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” With that said, I do question how much of an impact player he will become. There isn’t too much alpha in his game — never having moments where he truly dominates a game. Does that paint a picture of a third liner? Maybe, but I do think there is enough skill in his game to become a respectable top-6 winger. I just don’t think he’ll ever be the guy.
Because of Robertson’s age he still has plenty of development time ahead of him. With that, though, comes patience. I’d expect he’ll need to return to the OHL for the next two seasons. The second season being more so needed because of the most frustrating obstacle of the NHL-CHL agreement. He might be too good for junior hockey, but not good enough to last in the NHL.
I promise you though, once he arrives to the show he’ll be an instant fan favorite.