SASKATOON – Cheerful and self-effacing, there is something distinctly boyish about Ottawa Senators up-and-coming power forward Buddy Robinson.
Except that he’s six foot five and tips the scales at a whopping 235 pounds.
After scoring two goals in two nights during pre-season exhibition games, including Ottawa’s 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday, the 22-year-old’s chances of making the NHL this year are looking increasingly rosy.
With final cuts expected in the coming weeks, some of his fellow rookies are showing stress, but it’s clear from his broad grin that Robinson is having the time of his life.
“It’s definitely good to get a few out of the way early,” Robinson said. “You don’t want to be three or four games into the pre-season without a goal.”
Senators left-winger Clarke MacArthur, a veteran of eight NHL seasons, said he’s impressed that so large a player has the finesse and speed that Robinson displays.
“He’s a big body, and when he gets his feet going he’s a big horse going down the wall,” he said. “It’s great to see a young guy like that come in and get a couple goals. He’s making this league look easy.”
Robinson said he never really considered the possibility of professional hockey, especially when he was a gangly, awkward teenager. At the time his long frame—and the clumsiness that came with it—was more hindrance than help.
“I had to put some pounds on before I could really use the size to my advantage,” Robinson said.
While he is known to all as Buddy, even on official rosters, his real name is actually Charles James Robinson III. The nickname was given to him years ago, as a way of reducing confusion as family gatherings.
“Sometimes it gets a little confusing, if someone calls you buddy you don’t (know) if it’s your name or if he’s a pal,” Robinson said.
As time passed, Robinson said he realized he has more than raw power at his disposal.
“For a big guy I’ve always been told I can really move out there,” he said. “That’s what I like to focus on. I really want to be able to keep up with the smaller, quicker guys.”
Despite his modest ambitions, scouts consistently saw potential in Robinson, pushing him to higher and higher levels of play.
In 2009 Robinson was noticed by a Hamilton Red Wings scout, and after tryouts found himself playing in the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League. After two seasons, putting up 11 goals in the first and 15 the next, he was transferred to the Nepean Raiders.
This OMJHL exposure got him noticed by Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and he was offered a scholarship, staying for two years.
Robinson caught the eye of Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray during his second year of college, and was offered a college free agent contract. He took the deal and left his college days behind.
Senators head coach Paul McLean said he’ll make his final cuts around Oct. 1, and that so far he’s impressed with Robinson.
“He’s got good size and skates, and the puck is going in the net for him,” he said. “He’s doing a good job.”