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Young winger should consider staying with Toronto

Young winger should consider staying with Toronto
Young winger should consider staying with Toronto

Before free agency hit, Nicholas Robertson requested a trade from Toronto. However, it doesn’t appear his wish will be granted. Maple Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving commented on Robertson’s trade request. “We see Nick as an excellent player, and there’s a great opportunity for Nick here, and we need him to be a good player for us,” he said. Along the same lines as Treliving’s statement, Robertson should remain with the Leafs despite his aspirations to be traded.

Where does Robertson stand with the Leafs?

The 22-year-old winger is an RFA, but still needs a contract from the Maple Leafs. There are a few other RFAs on the table that Treliving has dealt with. Timothy Liljegren was re-signed to a two-year deal at $3 million AAV. Toronto also decided to let Noah Gregor go, who subsequently signed with the Ottawa Senators. And the latest RFA on the books for the Leafs is Connor Dewar, who filed for salary arbitration.

Robertson was drafted by the Maple Leafs with the 53rd pick in 2019 and has been a Leaf ever since. He has appeared for the Buds for the past four seasons. Last season, however, was the first time he saw more than 15 games. He was likely to see more games in the 2022-23 season, but a shoulder injury in December sidelined him for the rest of the season. Robertson returned at the start of last season, but likely did not get the ice time he had hoped for.

He scored 14 goals and 27 points in 56 games last season while averaging just 11:22 of ice time. He would typically spend his time on the third or fourth line, and he needs more time for a player of his quality. So Robertson’s trade request makes perfect sense considering how things have worked out for the Californian.

A chance to see in Toronto

It’s always been tough for Robertson to find a spot in the Leafs lineup where he can play significant minutes. He’s always been behind the star players that grace the Leafs lineup. That includes Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares. In the past, Robertson has had to play behind left wingers like Zach Hyman, Michael Bunting, Tyler Bertuzzi, and more. You can understand why Robertson would request a trade and feel uncomfortable about his future in Toronto.

Toronto’s left wing hasn’t been as strong this season, however. If Robertson were to stay, he would be competing with Matthew Knies, Bobby McMann, and Pontus Holmberg. With his skills, it’s very realistic that Robertson could earn a spot on the first or second line over those players. Of course, it all depends on how he uses the ice time he gets. It’s understandable that Treliving wouldn’t want to trade Robertson. Toronto’s GM believes he can really help this team in the future. Plus, he doesn’t cost too much, which is huge for a team that’s running up against the cap.

Main photo credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports