With the 2019-20 NHL season on pause, we're taking time to analyze the top prospects in the New York Rangers' organization. Based on conversations with players, scouts, executives and coaches at various levels, we'll be releasing a series of reports on each of our top 10 overall players in the system, followed by in-depth positional rankings. Any players who are 25 or younger and have played fewer than 25 NHL games are up for consideration.
No. 7: Defenseman Matthew Robertson
Matthew Robertson was still catching his breath when he answered the phone, having just finished working on his parents’ acreage outside of Edmonton.
That’s how he’s filled much of his time during the coronavirus pandemic, patiently waiting for his fast-tracked hockey career to resume.
“There’s always something to do every day,” the 19-year-old defenseman said. “We have a gym in my shop in my backyard, and I’m getting a workout in every day. Then I’m trying to stay busy, doing some yard work and helping out around the house.”
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧Robertson is unassuming, already developing what his WHL coach Brad Lauer calls the "habits to be a pro."
"Off ice, he’s dialed in," said Lauer, who coaches Robertson for the Edmonton Oil Kings. "He’s a very humble kid — very grounded. Good family; good parents. He doesn’t need to be the cool guy or anything like that. He works hard. He’s always one of the last guys to leave the rink."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧That explains Robertson's commitment to building strength and fine-tuning his 6-foot-4 frame.
The lefty blue-liner has all the physical ability to turn himself into a top-four defenseman for the New York Rangers, who selected him in the second round (No. 49 overall) of last year's NHL Draft.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧"We're really happy with the pick," Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury said. "We definitely feel like he has a lot of tools you need to have success in the NHL."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧Size is an obvious tool, but many scouts point to his mobility as a defining trait.
"His strength, for me watching him play, is his ability to skate," Lauer said. "He can skate the puck out of traffic. He can jump up in the rush and be in that second wave of attack."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧Joining the rush has been a focus with the Oil Kings, which seemed to click at the midpoint this season and led to Robertson being named the team's MVP.
"The last half of the season, he was really a dominant player for us," Lauer said. "He brings a shot from the blue line. He’s strong enough that he can walk the line and he’s got a really nice wrist shot that he can get through traffic, that doesn’t get blocked, and he gets it on net."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧The result was 47 points (13 goals and 34 assists) in 60 games, which Robertson said came from "being more aggressive with the puck."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧He also noted increasing his focus in the defensive zone, which remains a work in progress. Drury described it as "evolving."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧A key will be learning to use his big body to his advantage and developing a bit of a mean streak, which might not come naturally for the soft-spoken kid from Alberta.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧"For me, it’s getting to guys quicker and taking away their time and space as quick as I can; anticipating plays so that I can shut them down early," Robertson said. "That’s kind of the biggest thing for me — having that edge and playing a little bit more physical. It’s something I’m trying to work on."
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧Part of that is "reading the situation that the play calls for at that time," according to Lauer.
幸运飞艇4码选号技巧"These are areas in the game where your hockey instincts really have to take over," the 2019-20 WHL coach of the year said. "I think he’s grown, but he’s got to keep it going in that area."
The Rangers are confident that Robertson will continue to improve his feel for situational hockey — so much so that they've already signed him to an entry-level contract.
He'll be too young to play for the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Hartford next season, likely returning to the Oil Kings for one more year before turning pro and starting the clock on his contract in 2021-22. But he will be invited to NHL training camp again.
He made such an impression there last fall that the organization was convinced to sign him within a few months of being drafted.
"He delivered, not only in the times that we saw him in Traverse (City) or Development Camp or Ranger training camp, but he also had a really good year in Edmonton," Drury said. "We were excited to not mess around; just get him signed right away and continue to help him develop."
ICYMI: Top 10 prospects for the NY Rangers
No. 7:Defenseman Matthew Robertson
No. 6: Check back on Saturday...
Vincent Z. Mercogliano is the New York Rangers beat reporter for the USA TODAY Network. Read more of his work at y2px61.cn/sports/rangers/ and follow him on Twitter .