2018-19 Team: Edmonton Oil Kings (#22)
Date of Birth: March 9, 2001
Place of Birth: Edmonton, Alberta
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 201 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2019 first-year eligible
- The Hockey Writers (Pike’s Picks): 20th (final)
- Future Considerations: 14th (Spring)
- ISS: 17th (April)
- Bob McKenzie: not in top 15 (April; draft lottery update)
- Craig Button: 29th (March)
The 2019 NHL Draft class is heavy on good forwards but a bit lean on strong defensemen. The likes of Bowen Byram, Cam York and Philip Broberg are deservedly getting accolades and attention, but further down the rankings Edmonton Oil Kings defender Matthew Robertson may be the best kept secret in the first round mix.
In a lot of ways – and in the nicest ways – Robertson is a blend between a 30-year-old NHL veteran and an energetic rookie. In his second full Western Hockey League season he had 33 points in 52 games and served as alternate captain for a good Edmonton Oil Kings squad. He played in every situation and was a key cog in his team’s success.
Robertson’s best attribute is his confidence and poise. In a word, he’s nearly unflappable. He skates well and passes well and has a really impressive shot when he has a chance to use it, but the key to his game at the WHL level is that there’s no panic in it. Whether he’s leading an offensive rush up the ice or he’s defending a two-on-one from the opposition, he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and there’s no jumpiness in his game – and that calm often spreads to his teammates and helps them get through rough spots.
Related: Our Free NHL Draft Guide
The “down side” of Robertson’s style is that there aren’t a lot of peaks and valleys. The lack of valleys is great, but the lack of peaks is because there’s not a lot of sexy qualities in his game – he doesn’t get caught out of position, so he doesn’t have to make dramatic poke-checks and he doesn’t usually bust out eye-popping dangles with his stick.
That said, Robertson is both a safe and smart pick in the first round. He’s smart. He’s big. He moves well. He’s always where he should be. He’s poised. He might not have any elite attributes aside from his hockey sense, but he should still be able to develop into a reliable 200-foot defender for whichever team nabs him at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Matthew Robertson – NHL Draft Projection
Based on recent projections and forecasts, Robertson is a safe bet to go somewhere in the late first round. Most likely he’s selected somewhere in the 20s.
“It might take a few years for Matthew Robertson to develop to his full potential but if he is able to reach his ceiling, the team who drafts him will be very pleased. While he might never be an elite offensive defensive, Robertson has the potential to play big minutes and contribute in all situations for his team. With his size, mobility, and hockey IQ he should become a favourite of his coaches going forward.” – Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
- Really strong hockey sense, with strong awareness in all three zones.
- Really effective skater, moves around the ice very efficiently.
- Really effective shooter and puck distributor.
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to keep adding muscle to his frame to withstand corner battles.
- Doesn’t play particularly physical or mean.
- Sometimes opts to pass too often, could stand to shoot more and work on his finishing skills.
Other 2019 NHL Draft Profiles
Robertson projects as a rock-solid top four defender. If he can keep developing his offensive skill-set, he could trend more towards first pairing and first power play duties. Stylistically, he resembles Jay Bouwmeester.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 8.5/10
Robertson has represented Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the Under-18 Worlds and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He won gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.