In the 2018 NHL Draft, the Los Angeles Kings didn’t select a single defenseman. They looked at their pipeline and decided they could take a year off from re-stocking the blue line.
After all, they drafted three in 2017 (Mikey Anderson and Markus Phillips, both of whom will turn pro in the 2019-20 season, and Cole Hults, who will have at least one more season at Penn State), three in 2016 (Kale Clague, who spent last season adjusting to the professional game in Ontario, Jacob Moverare, who is continuing to develop in Sweden, and Jacob Friend, who was not signed), and made free agent acquisitions in Daniel Brickley and depth/rookie defenseman Austin Strand. Matt Roy (a 2015 draft pick) and Sean Walker made big strides in their development, as well, showing that they can at least hang in the NHL.
But this year, it’s time to start adding more pieces to the defense pipeline. While our decision to skip over Bowen Byram in the mock draft with the number five pick was controversial, with the number 22 pick, we’re going to focus on the blue line.
Meet Matthew Robertson of the Edmonton Oil Kings: a confident, smooth-skating defenseman with a shot good enough to rival that of a top-nine forward. He’s who our Fake Kings Team is going to select with our second pick of the first round.
Born: March 9, 2001 (18 years old)
Place of Birth: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Team: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Weight: 201 lbs.
Regular Season: 52 Games Played, 33 Points (7G, 26A), 26 PIM
Playoffs: 16 Games, 8 Points (4G, 4A), 10 PIM
#16 — TSN/McKenzie
#19 — Future Considerations
#19 — ISS Hockey
#26 — NHL Central Scouting
#29 — McKeen’s
#37 — Elite Prospects
So what’s the deal?
Projected to go in the late first round, Robertson is a player who some draft analysts are projecting to be a potential steal for whichever team gets him. While he has a very good shot, his biggest strength is universally thought to be his skating, particularly in his backwards skating, and in general with his speed and acceleration. This is perhaps even more notable given his size (6’4”, anywhere between 190-200 pounds, depending on the source). He’s very agile in general, let alone for a player of his height.
Robertson has taken on a leading role on the Edmonton Oil Kings’ power play and excels at the type of smart, quick puck movement that makes a team successful on the man advantage. He’s not afraid to jump up and join the play and doesn’t pass up the opportunity to shoot the puck.
Robertson is thought of as a two-way defenseman, and while his offense is still building at the WHL level, he has improved each year and took another dramatic step forward in terms of points production in the playoffs this season. There aren’t many knocks on his defensive game, either, which often suffers with players who are more focused on providing offense. He’s generally known to have good gap control and positioning, and given his excellent skating, can use his feet to get out of any trouble he finds himself in.
In addition to being named an Alternate Captain for the Oil Kings in his second year with the team, Robertson also spent some time playing for Canada this past season, recording four points in five games at the Hlinka Cup. He’s generally regarded as a mature, thoughtful player who has been a natural fit for a leadership role on a somewhat-rebuilding Edmonton team.
He does have some history of injuries, including a concussion that led him to miss time earlier this season, but has bounced back and continued to perform at a high level.
Robertson could stand to develop a little more aggression in his game. He doesn’t back away from throwing a big hit when necessary, however, for a player of his size, you’d like to see him get a little more physical when needed. The Kings always like to see some physicality in their defensemen, but this is a skill or mindset that Robertson can develop.
26th-ranked North American skater, @EdmOilKings d-man & Sherwood Park's own Matthew Robertson chats with @EdmontonJack at #NHLCombine to discuss @TheWHL playoff run, his strengths & more. pic.twitter.com/AItOKmcSRM— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) June 1, 2019
Edmonton Oil Kings defenseman Matthew Robertson said he talked with 29 teams this week. #NHLDraft #nhlcombine— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) June 1, 2019
SB Nation 2019 NHL Mock Draft
- New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
- New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko, TPS (Liiga)
- Chicago Blackhawks: Alex Turcotte, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
- Colorado Avalanche (via Ottawa Senators): Kirby Dach, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
- Los Angeles Kings: Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
- Detroit Red Wings: Bowen Byram, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
- Buffalo Sabres: Cole Caufield, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
- Edmonton Oilers: Peyton Krebs, Kootenay ICE (WHL)
- Anaheim Ducks: Trevor Zegras, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
- Vancouver Canucks: Matthew Boldy, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
- Philadelphia Flyers: Alex Newhook, Victoria Grizzlies (BCHL)
- Minnesota Wild: Vasili Podkolzin, SKA-1946 Saint Petersburg (MHL)
- Florida Panthers: Philip Broberg, AIK (Allsvenskan)
- Arizona Coyotes: Victor Soderstrom, Brynas IF (SHL)
- Montreal Canadiens: Thomas Harley, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
- New York Rangers (via Mock Draft trade with Colorado Avalanche): Arthur Kaliyev, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
- Vegas Golden Knights: Raphael Lavoie, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- Dallas Stars: Moritz Seider, Adler Mannheim (DEL)
- Ottawa Senators (via Columbus Blue Jackets): Bobby Brink, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
- Colorado Avalanche (via Mock Draft trade with New York Rangers, via Winnipeg Jets): Cam York, US National Team Development Program (USHL)
- Pittsburgh Penguins: Nils Hoglander, Rögle BK (SHL)