Healthy scratches detrimental to Nick Robertson's development

Sheldon Keefe has scratched Nick Robertson for four consecutive games, leading some to ask if it is to the detriment of the 21-year-old winger’s development.

Video Transcript

- So I'm about like one more healthy scratch away from tweeting, #FreeNickRobertson. Anyone remember that? Remember when back in the day when Jake Gardner was a continuous healthy scratch and his agent was fed up about it, so he had this whole free Jake Gardner movement to get him to play?

I'm at that point with Nick Robertson. I understand where Sheldon Keefe is coming from, to an extent. I understand that one of the main reasons Nick Robertson continues to stay out of the lineup is because of Pontus Holmberg, another loose prospect who has made his way up, and, you know, was giving the team solid minutes, having some good chemistry, playing the right way.

So I get that. But on the other hand, I don't get it because Pontus Holmberg's situation should have nothing to do with Nick Robertson. Holmberg is a center. Robertson is a winger. And Roberts is also a scoring winger.

So I don't get it. I don't understand that we just have him up in the NHL with the team, and I can-- OK, I can guess I can rationalize the idea of being around veterans and so on and so forth. But like, he's not playing games.

And that's the killer. That's what stunts development, when a prospect is not playing games. And Nick Robertson has had so many things over the last couple of years that have prevented him from playing games. So if the Leafs aren't going to play him, then send him down.

I'm really getting frustrated with him just being up the press box and not playing any games, especially when we're watching certain players get opportunities in the top six and not doing much with it. Alex Kerfoot, I'm sorry. I understand Kerfoot, that he does a lot of small things and little things, and that he's responsible and stuff.

But like, the scoring touches isn't there. He only has one goal. So every time I watch him get a greater opportunity, like playing in the top six, whether it's Tavares or Marner or Matthews and Nylander, and he doesn't score on it, it's just like, man, I wonder if Robertson could have scored on that?

And it's just, we're in this like weird limbo effect. And I do think that at this point, every game that Pat Robertson is not playing is hurting him. And especially, if we're telling him that he's doing all the right things. And Sheldon Keefe is doing that. Oh, he's doing the right things.

He has great attitude. He's working hard in practice. OK, but you need to give him something. You need to reward him with something at some point. And even if it's from the idea of like not wanting to change the how the team is the team is right now because the team is winning games. That's-- that's true.

The team is winning games, and as Sheldon Keefe, the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, that's the only thing you should be worried about. However, the Leafs need to start getting some of their homegrown talent into the lineup continuously. We look at teams like Tampa.

We praise Tampa because they're able to have continuous playoff success and then get all of these second, third, fourth round players, and then insert them right into the lineup. We need to give our prospects that opportunity. I don't know how it's done right now, because obviously, there's a room thing going on. But they need to find a way to play Nick Robertson.

It's doing no-- no good. It's not helping him at all to continue to see games in the press box. So hopefully they can find a way to figure it out, because Nick Robertson has been a player I've been excited for a long time, when he scored over 50 goals in the OHL, was a point per game player in the AHL. He's ready. He just needs a space and the time.