Photo Credit: Idrottsfoto
For NHL fans of a certain age the name “Robertsson” might ring some bells. That is because Simon Robertsson will not be the first person in his family to play in the world’s best league. His father Bert suited up 123 times for Vancouver, Edmonton and the Rangers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. But while Bert – a limited blue-liner – never really stood-out even at the SHL level, Simon has the skills to get fans out of their seats.
D.O.B – February 5, 2003
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –190 lbs
Position – Right Wing
Handedness – Left
Robertsson’s Style Of Play
Stand-out qualities are always something that get scouts excited. If a young players is already “NHL level” at anything before they are drafted it is guaranteed to both make them stand out, and is simply one thing less to worry about in the development process. And for Robertsson? The aspect of his game that stands out most is arguably the most coveted, and something that cannot be taught as easily as some others.
It is no exaggeration to state that the Piteå product is the best shooter in the draft. Most current NHL wingers wish they had the ability to catapult a puck of their stick like Robertsson does. He is the kind of player who can pick a corner from outside the circles, but also has the power to shoot “through” a goalie. While for most players a nick off a blocker would send the puck into the rafters, the robust winger has a habit of hurrying goalies who appear set, and often it is the case that a piece of the puck is not enough to prevent it nestling in the net.
Yet while precision and power sound a great combination they are not the only weapons Robertsson has in his shooting arsenal. There are few skaters his age who understand net-minders so well. Most players don’t have the reflexes or IQ to capitalise on momentary screens, or a goalies weaknesses when “resetting” in their crease. Yet these innocuous moments for most are scoring chances for Simon Robertsson. It is not rare for a goalie to never move on one of his shots through traffic, and you cannot save what you never see. He also has all the shots. His one-timer is lethal when set-up on the power-play, his wrist-shot can come from anywhere, his snap-shot has the power of most slap-shots, and he can gain real elevation on his back-hand.
The teenager from Norbotten county is not “just” a shot on skates though. For a young player who sees limited minutes in a pro league Robertsson does something that not many 18 year olds can say. He looks the part. Not only does he have a broad “man-sized” frame, but his grit, strength and motor mean that even if he only sees five shifts a game there is no thought of him being a junior player. It might seem like a back-handed compliment, but when tuning into Skellefteå games this season – were it not for his cage – you would think that he was a career SHL bottom-sixer who had years under his belt.
Now, that is not to say he is mistake free. Like most young players he has been inconsistent at the highest level. But what he does is always “try” to do the right thing in all three zones, and he has a well-developed two-way game. That, combined with his ability to go up against anyone on the boards and around the net, create the impression he is older than his years. As would be expected for a young player with that kind of skill-set, Robertsson is also a good penalty-killer for his age.
In regards to his “intelligence” when on ice, this is best manifested by his ability to create space for himself in the offensive zone and get into spots to unleash his howitzer or clean up the trash around the net. Like all good scorers he often manages to get into high danger areas with no opponent in sight and leave opposition coaches shaking their heads when the un-marked Robertsson picks up a puck in the slot and fires home. While he does not seem to “relish” the net-front he is adept at the edge of the crease, but will certainly need to go there more when he crossed the pond given his likely role.
Skating wise he moves well, especially for a young player who appears to have already done most of the bulking he will need for a future NHL career. Once in stride he can go toe-to-toe with almost anyone in the SHL in a straight line. From an agility perspective he is “okay” as well. He will never be someone whose short-area skating will make opponents look silly, but at the same time it is not ever going to be a problem for him either.
So we have a young player with a booming shot, a good two-way game, plus skating and good hockey IQ… but what are the issues?
The main aspect of his game that needs improvement to reach his potential is his decision making when on the puck. He has a tendency to take to much time to make a play, and on smaller ice versus better players he will not have the luxury of a long wind up for a shot, or an extra 10 yards on the cycle before picking out a man.
For a player with a seemingly good hockey IQ who both understands seams on ice as well as defensive coverages and opposition goalies it is also slightly concerning that Robertsson often misses clear high-danger passes. There can be players cross-ice who are free in prime positions yet too often it appears he recognises this too later. Or, perhaps he does see those opportunities, but does not trust his passing to make the play. This would also be understandable, as his passing needs improvement from a technical perspective too. Too often he misses a stick, or fires his pass too hard or too soft for it to be easily corralled by a team-mate.
However, these small warts should not discourage teams from taking him from the mid-first round onwards. It is rare that players with clear 30+ goal potential are available at that stage of a draft, and Robertsson certainly has that. Furthermore, even if he cannot iron out the aspects of his game that are lacking right now, his floor seems high given his physical gifts and two-way game.
Glen Murray, Right Wing, retired (Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and LA Kings)
While Murray was a righty and Robertsson is a lefty the similarities in their release are uncanny. When you focus on how they shoot, where they shoot from and their variety of shots? You could be forgiven for thinking that the Black and Yellow Skellefteå jersey was that of the early 2000s Bruins and that the tape had simply been mirrored. But it is not just the shot that is similar. The way they play is as well. Like Murray, Robertsson is a committed two-way player who can PK, and despite being physically strong is not one for the rough and tumble. Similar to a young Glen Murray as well, Robertsson is a good straight line skater whose agility is not the same level. Both also have similar flaws. Neither are great passers, and have the habit of taking slightly too long with decisions when set up.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.
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