2019-20 Team: Saskatoon Blades (#11)
Date of Birth: November 15, 2001
Place of Birth: Brandon, Manitoba
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 86th (among NA skaters)
- Future Considerations: 69th
- The Draft Analyst: 194th
- Andrew Forbes (The Hockey Writers): 106th
- Larry Fisher (The Hockey Writers): 61st
Coming into the 2019-20 season, Tristen Robins was barely considered for the 2020 NHL Draft. The season prior, his first full WHL campaign, he put up just 25 points as a depth center, buried behind veterans Max Gerlach, Gary Haden, and 2019 third-overall pick, Kirby Dach. Given limited ice time and playing on a team trying to make a deep playoff run, there were few opportunities for Robins to show his skill.
The Blades would be sadly sent home in the second round by the eventual champions, the Prince Albert Raiders, but Robins showed flashes of brilliance, scoring three goals and adding an assist over 10 playoff games. The Central Scouting gave Robins a conservative C grade on their pre-season players to watch, based largely on the fact that they hadn’t really seen him play.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Early in the 2019-20 season, after the graduation of Gerlach and the departure of Dach, Haden, and 20-year-old Eric Florchuk, Robins was finally given a top-six spot. He started off relatively slowly, scoring 22 points in 31 games to start the season, but after the Christmas break, he came back transformed. In the final 31 games, Robins had 23 goals and 51 points and finished first in team scoring, as well as 14th in the WHL and third among draft-eligible players.
Since then, Robins has shot up the charts as few have. The Central Scouting Service ranked him 134th on their midterm list but had moved him nearly 50 spots to 86th among North American prospects on their final report. Only first-round hopeful Seth Jarvis had more points in the same span of games, and among draft-eligible WHL players, only Jarvis and Connor Zary had more than Robins’ 73 points at the end of the season.
Being a smaller player, Robins has generally been overlooked by NHL scouts. He’s listed at 5-foot-10 but seems even smaller out on the ice, dwarfed by his opponents. Yet his game is anything but small. He possesses an incredible work ethic and determination, never shying away from the corners or taking on a bigger opponent on the forecheck. His tenacity is blended with a high hockey IQ, making him a nuisance to play against.
Robins also has deceptive agility and great high-end speed, which he uses in all sorts of situations. He can employ blazing speed to set up his teammates and generate great scoring chances. He also is strong defensively, able to steal pucks from helpless defenders to create turnovers. While his skating could use some improvement, his speed is one of the best parts of his game and is no doubt a contributing factor to his breakout this season.
Better yet, his game has no glaring weaknesses; on the few occasions he makes a mistake, he was able to change gears quickly and work to recover the missed play. It’s caused several scouts to draw comparisons to other undersized NHL forwards, like Viktor Arvidsson, Tyler Johnson, Brendan Gallagher, and Brayden Point. While Robins may not have the upside of that esteemed group, he does possess many similarities to them, specifically with how he controls the game despite his size.
The NHL still loves it’s big players, though, and that mentality has prevented Robins from rising further. He also doesn’t have the high offensive upside that others in his draft class have. Yet, like Gallagher and Point, he possesses a very high work ethic, never slowing down or passing on an opportunity to make a play or challenge an opponent. He doesn’t take shifts off and it’s impossible not to watch him every time he steps on the ice. At this point, it seems unlikely that he doesn’t keep improving, making him a great breakout candidate for 2020-21.
Other THW Profiles
Tristen Robins – Draft Projection
Despite Robins’ meteoric rise at the end of the season, he still is projected to go in the third round or later, with some still placing him closer to the end of the draft. He does have some very passionate supporters, though, who see him as a potential second-rounder – or even a late first-round option – and they have managed to sway the opinion on him, with more accepting that he should go higher. Like Adam Beckman in 2019, Robins has a chance to slip under the radar, but greatly reward the team that finally takes him.
“Tristen Robins is my Adam Beckman of this season. He wasn’t ranked on almost any lists and I complained. I’ve pleaded my case and some have come around…he had 54 points in the last 33 games playing against top lines. Only Seth Jarvis had a better PPG over that span. Stay tuned for the full analysis and chat. It’s not about the point totals. It’s about how he got them.” Joel Henderson, Dobber Prospects
“He’s listed at 5-foot-10 and looks more like 5-foot-9 out on the ice, but don’t tell him his size, because he doesn’t play small in any way, shape or form. He’s willing to take hits to make plays, and we’ve seen him take a massive hit from a stationary position along the boards, only to be in awe of his ability to not only stay upright but send his larger opponent crumpled to the ice instead. He is the type of player that is willing to enter heavy traffic and it often leads to scoring chances. He’s not a perimeter player, he seemingly refuses to remain on the perimeter.” Hockeyprospect.com
- Hockey IQ
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Overall upside
- All-around play
Based on his 2019-20 season, Robins looks to be a two-way energy winger, who can solidify a middle-six. However, scouts haven’t really had a good look at what he is truly capable of; he really only started producing in the last half of the season, giving onlookers just over 30 games to see his skills on display. It’s made some hesitant to make bold claims on him just yet, but the skill is most definitely there to be a tenacious NHL center.
Risk/Reward Analysis Risk – 3/5, Reward – 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential Offense – 6/10, Defense – 7/10
Robins was voted the Saskatoon Blades’ MVP for the 2019-20 season after leading the team in goals, assists, and points. He was also voted Most Gentlemanly, and Best Defensive Forward.
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.