2019 doesn’t boast the strongest class of defencemen. In fact, unless you’re in a position to draft Bowen Byram, you’re probably better off picking a forward with one of the first 10-12 selections.
That said, if you’re picking in the mid-to-late first round, there are a bevy of second and third-tier defencemen available that could potentially be valuable pick ups. The better known names of Victor Soderstrom, Philip Broberg, Moritz Seider, Cam York, and Ville Heinola will be nabbed first, but Edmonton Oil Kings rearguard Matthew Robertson could be a decent consolation prize late in the first round.
- Age/Birthdate: 18 / March 9, 2001
- Birthplace: Edmonton, AB, CAN
- Frame: 6-foot-4 / 201 lbs
- Position: Defence
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
- AMHL Second All-Star Team
- U16 WCCC Gold Medal
- U17 WHC All-Star Team
- U17 WHC Most Points by Defenseman (6)
- Hilinka Gretzky Cup Champion
- Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
2018-19 Stat Rundown
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Like so many defencemen in this draft class, Robertson is a very good skater, combining all the various skating aspects to make it look entirely effortless.
He has above average straight line speed and two-step quickness that allow him to keep up with almost every forward that challenges him. Robertson is good at pivoting from forwards to backwards skating while maintaining the majority of his speed. The Edmonton born defenceman is agile and uses his edges effectively. He seems to have endless amounts of energy, so his skating never seems to falter at any point during the game.
Offensively, Robertson is a good puck distributor but can also carry the puck through the neutral zone with ease. His zone exits and zone entries are usually flawless as he displays confidence and poise with the puck.
Once he gets the line in the offensive zone, he isn’t the most creative player with the puck but that doesn’t mean he isn’t effective. He gets his shot through, moves the puck well, and can move around with the puck with ease. It’s simple but he makes things happen.
You’d also like him to be more assertive. In the clip below, he has all that space available to him, and he just hammers the puck from distance.
In his own zone, Robertson is very good at moving around the zone and keeping opponents to the outside. He doesn’t get beat too often when being pressured in a one-on-one situation.
Earlier, I mentioned that he seems to never run out of energy and that does present itself in the D zone at times. It can work out really well, like in this play:
But then there are times where he is just doing too much stuff, such as this stick movement when protecting the passing lane: it’s not necessarily detrimental to the play, but it’s pointless.
Overall, it speaks to the fact that there is quite a bit to like about his game but there are areas he can fix. When he is smartly using his skills and energy, he can be a really effective defenceman, but then there are times where you wonder if he is overthinking things.
Robertson had a strong Ivan Hlinka but slowly saw his stock fall as the season went along and that is mostly due to the fact that other players just had better seasons. His season was good overall but it wasn’t something to allow him to keep his mid-first round placement.
Overall, his underlying numbers were decent but weren’t anything spectacular.
He appeared to drag down the majority of his most frequent linemates, but not drastically so. Furthermore, his goals-for percentage was 58.3%, which isn’t a bad number but relative to his teammates wasn’t great.
But when we take a step back and look at the whole team, you can see when looking at the other defencemen on the Oil Kings, Robertson looks quite decent:
The Oil Kings struggled when Robertson missed some time with injury as they seemed to be lost without their alternate captain.
His production this season was exactly noteworthy but it still produced a very solid projection through the pGPS cohort model:
With 118 matches, Robertson has an likelihood of becoming an NHL regular of about 39%, which is the 24th highest among this draft class. His matches aren’t the most prolific scorers at the NHL level and profile more as two-way defenders, which is exactly what you would expect from Robertson.
There aren’t many red flags to his game but there is a reason why Robertson is a step below that second tier of defencemen. He isn’t the most dynamic player and can sometimes make some head scratching plays.
But there are positives to his game including his skating abilities, willingness to shoot, and defensive game.
He plays a well-rounded and mature game that leads to high percentage plays more often then not. Ultimately, he is in that range around the end of the first round or early second round but could very easily develop into a middle to bottom pair defenceman.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and whl.ca.
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Matthew Robertson’s page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
Father of two and decent husband.
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