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2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Tristen Robins could be the draft’s breakout star

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Not expected to be drafted until the draft’s second day, Robins brings speed and skill to the table.

Saskatoon Blades v Everett Silvertips Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images

Tristen Robins never fit the profile of a top prospect for the NHL Draft. He was a fourth-round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, and was traded after playing one game for the Regina Pats. However, a strong finish to his WHL season has raised his profile, and he may very well end up being one of the late risers of the 2020 Draft.

Birthplace: Brandon, Manitoba
Date of birth: November 15, 2001
Shoots: Right
Position: Right Winger
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 183 lbs.
Team: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Before this season started, no one would have considered Robins to be anywhere close to the top three rounds, which is where he is on most boards. In his first full season in the WHL, he had nine goals and 16 assists in 68 games which was added to his one assist in four games the previous season in spot duty.

Elite Prospects

In his draft year, he started off the year with some improvement to his game. He had 19 points in his first 29 games. In the second half of his year, he reached another level. He had 54 points in his final 33 games, a similar path to Seth Jarvis. The second half raised his profile, and had people take notice.

Strengths

The first thing that sticks out with Robins is his offensive awareness. Scouts rave about his ability to process information offensively and thinks the game in the right way. His energy is always high, even drawing comparisons to Brendan Gallagher.

The difference with Robins and some others with high motors is that he has the skill and the hands to catch up to his feet and his head. Some of the plays he makes on the rush or in tight spaces in junior are quite remarkable and is one of the things that belies his third round projection on many boards.

He’s able to deceive and trick defenders on the rush and beat them in many different ways. The variety and his ability to fake defenders out is what makes his highlight reel so electrifying. His puck handling is one of the best parts of his game, and is a major reason for his success on the stat sheet.

He plays in all situations for the Blades, including the power play where he can set up on the half wall, and shorthanded.

Robins can score with his shot which he can release off of both legs, and in many situations. He doesn’t need the puck set on a tee for him to launch it. He also uses his stick to deceive goaltenders and the wrist shot has enough power on it to beat goaltenders. His 33 goals were scored in all kinds of different ways.

He’s not a perimeter player, despite his size. He very often goes to the net and is able to finish from in close as well. Scouts rave about his ability to play bigger than his frame, and his balance sees him stand strong when hit, even by bigger defenders.

Weaknesses

For as quick and as good as his rush offence is, there are questions that scouts have about his skating. He doesn’t have any clear technical flaws, but his high-end speed would need to improve for him to have separation at higher levels.

Speaking of his rush offence, often times he tries to do too much when he has the puck on his stick, and has been described as individualistic in his decision making. He is able to make plays and make passes — this may even be a stronger aspect of his game than his shot is — but he doesn’t always seem to be aware where his teammates are while he’s rushing the puck.

The way in which he processes the game leads to him throwing passes in areas that his teammates are not. This is where there can be some disagreement depending on who is watching him. Some people will say that these plays are seen as “hope” plays in which he throws the puck into dangerous areas hoping a teammate will be there to make a play on the other end.

Others, however, see this as him processing the game at an advanced level and his teammates are not able to recognize the same plays that he does. This can be something that will improve as he moves up levels as players get better and may have the ability to see what he does.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #53
Future Considerations: #63
Hockey Prospect: #13
McKeen’s Hockey: #55
McKenzie/TSN: #98
NHL Central Scouting: #86 (North American skaters)

The outlier here is definitely Hockey Prospect, who are so high on him, there’s not really anyone close. The fact that he’s on Bob McKenzie’s radar points to the improved reputation Robins has earned with NHL scouts.

It should be noted that he is one of the older prospects in the draft year, and the small sample for his most productive time in the WHL can raise some red flags but that is why he is seen as a second-to-third round player as opposed to a higher-ranked one.

There isn’t one tool or skill that stands out as dynamic for Robins, but players who end up as line-driving wingers by exceeding their ceilings like a Gallagher or Viktor Arvidsson (another player Robins is compared to) play like Robins does. That’s not guaranteeing that he will end up being as successful as those two players, but there’s a reason why there’s buzz surrounding Robins.

It would not be a shock to see someone take Robins in the second round despite where he’s ranked, and that would probably be an inspired selection. He’s one of those players that you can afford to take a chance on if you really like him.

The rankings that are highest on him see him as a potential line driver from the wing. Those who are cooler on him see him as having top-nine or middle-six winger upside. A lot of his future will depend on his development.