By Tom Hunter (@)
When an OHL forward scores 42 goals in his draft year, you’d expect one of two things – he’s either ranked near the top of the first round of the draft or he’s shorter than 5’9 (lousy size bias). Kingston Frontenacs winger Jason Robertson doesn’t fall into either of those categories.
The 6’2 American forward is ranked as a second round pick (or worse) by every major scouting service – despite being the lone offensive bright spot on a team that simply couldn’t score this season. The Kingston Frontenacs scored an OHL low 179 goals this season – the Moncton Wildcats were the only CHL team to score less – Jason Roberston scored a remarkable 23.5% of those goals.
Robertson finished seventh in the OHL in scoring, two goals behind consensus top-5 pick Owen Tippett, and he out-produced his closest teammate by 30 points. Yet, there’s next to no buzz around him as an NHL prospect – it’s a little unbelievable.
Robertson’s scoring numbers are outstanding – and it’s not like he’s padding them on the powerplay, his 29 5v5 goals were good enough for 5th in the entire league and second among draft-eligible players. Add that to the fact that last year – as a rookie – Robertson was second in scoring for 2017 draft-eligibles (18 goals), and you’ve got a young player that consistently outscores his peers.
Robertson’s is a game built around power. He’s very good at protecting the puck and thrives when taking advantage of scoring chances in close to the crease. Robertson scores the vast majority of his goals from the hash-marks in.
On top of the goal totals, Robertson finished second behind only Alex DeBrincat for shots on next by a forward. Roberston converted on 14% of his 300 shots – to compare, DeBerincat scored on an insane 21.1% of his shots. He doesn’t score a lot of goals you’d expect from a ‘pure sniper’ – like you see from Owen Tippett – but Robertson does have a decent wrist shot for his age.
The knock on Robertson is his skating. He looks clunky when he gets moving, and it takes him more strides than you’d like to get up to his top gear – but once he starts going, Robertson has decent north-south speed for someone his size. He’s never going to be called a burner, but worries about his skating are a little overblown.
The acceleration is what needs the most work, but that is a part of the game players can definitely work to improve – and Robertson has shown that he has the work ethic necessary to fix the weakness.
While players can work to improve their skating, one thing that is a lot harder to enhance is hockey IQ – and that is something Robertson certainly doesn’t lack. He is a smart player that is able to use his instincts to put himself in a position to create scoring chances. While he plays with a shoot-first mentality, Robertson doesn’t just shoot from anywhere – he puts himself in a position to be successful. With a little work on his shot over the summer, I would expect he could improve on his shooting percentage that was just a little above league average.
Born in July, Robertson falls into the late-birthday category of this draft class. Being younger than most of his peers, Robertson still has a lot of room to grow in his development – the hope for any team drafting him is that he can take advantage of it. A summer at rookie camp with NHL-level coaches – and a to-do list from his new team – would go a long way in Robertson becoming dominant in the OHL next season.
He wasn’t just one of the best offensive players in his draft class, he was one of the most offensively dominant players in the entire OHL this season – and yet for some reason, Jason Robertson isn’t even getting a mention when this year’s top prospects are discussed.
He is a much better player than Nathan Bastian – who was drafted 41st overall last year and was consistently ranked higher than Robertson is now.
I just don’t get it.
Maybe I’m missing something, or maybe the scouts are. Or maybe Robertson is another case of a player that ‘surprises’ on draft day by being selected higher than any of the scouring services prognosticate.
This year’s draft is consistently being referred to as ‘weak’ – but that has more to do with the lack of star talent at the top than anything else. There are a number of prospects that will be very high on an organizational depth chart once they’re drafted – Jason Robertson is definitely one of them.
My bet is that he is picked by a team that trades up into the first few picks of the second round – and other teams will regret letting him slide. Robertson is a much better player than the buzz around him would suggest – something that most will likely find out as early as next season.
— Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) March 28, 2017