It doesn't come as a surprise that 20-year-old Nick Robertson will presumably start the upcoming season in the AHL. The real eye-opener is the decision by the Toronto Maple Leafs was seemingly easy, as the team included him in a group of cuts on Tuesday.
With over a week remaining until the Toronto opens their season against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 13, Robertson, who played six games in the regular season with the club in 2020-21 and participated in the 2020 Playoffs, was expected to make that decision difficult for the Maple Leafs.
Robertson was the only participant with NHL experience that took part in the Maple Leafs' development camp and rookie tournament games last month.
"There are ups and downs in everyone's career and whatever happens, happens," Robertson said earlier in the day following his last skate with the club. "What keeps me going is trying to get better, take it with a grain of salt. I'm going to be an NHL player one day, it's just a matter of when."
Robertson was one of seven Leafs cuts announced on Tuesday, a list that included forward Mikhail Abramov, defenseman Joseph Duszak, defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer, defenseman Teemu Kivihalme, forward Jack Kopacka and forward Jeremy McKenna.
Robertson was in competition with several wingers for one of many spots open in the team's lineup. With newcomers Nitck Ritchie, Ondrej Kase and Michael Bunting expected to fill regular roles on the wing, finding an everyday role for Robertson became increasingly difficult to see.
Robertson's ability to be called up and sent down when needed without being exposed in the waiver wire could help the Leafs in their ability to manage their roster and stay under the team's salary cap. Robertson didn't make the final cut before last season's opener but was called up for the team's third game of the season. He suffered a knee injury in his season debut and battled various injuries during the 2020-21 season.
UPDATE: Following the Maple Leafs' 6-2 pre-season victory against the Canadiens, the team assigned forward Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, defensemen Mac Hollowell, Krsitians Rubins and goaltender Erik Kallgren. They also released forward Nikita Gusev from his professional tryout.