Kingston left wing Jason Robertson had one of the most impressive seasons in the Ontario Hockey League, but it took a while for his standing among some scouts for the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas to catch up.
NHL Central Scouting made Robertson one of the biggest climbers in their final ranking of the top North American skaters, moving him to No. 14 after he was No. 34 in the midterm rankings.
"I wouldn't say it's frustrating," Robertson said. "I like being the underdog who proves everybody wrong. I use that as motivation. It pushes me."
Robertson (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) has done more than enough to prove people wrong this season. He had 81 points (42 goals, 39 assists) in 68 games with Kingston, which scored 179 goals, the fewest goals in the OHL and the third-fewest in the Canadian Hockey League.
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"I think what impressed our scouts the most is he's a natural scorer," Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. "He has good hands, he can get separation and he has offensive instincts you can't teach."
Some scouts saw Robertson's skating as an issue, and it's an area he plans on addressing during the offseason. But it was good enough for him to score 23.4 percent of Kingston's goals and have a hand in 45.2 percent of them.
"I don't see it as a problem," Marr said. "It doesn't stop him from being at the right place at the right time. Brett Hull was never a great skater but he knew how to get open. Corey Perry and John Tavares weren't the best skaters. We can't allow ourselves to be overly influenced by one single aspect of a player's game."
Robertson also was able to produce with little support around him, especially after Kingston traded forward Warren Foegele (Carolina Hurricanes) to Erie on Jan. 2. At the time Foegele had 31 points in 28 games with Kingston.
"I expected to be a leader offensively for this team from the start of the season," Robertson said. "I knew those expectations were on me. When we traded [Foegele] to Erie, it opened a door for me to fill that role. I knew it wouldn't be easy losing one of our top offensive players, but the system our coaches put in place allowed me to be the offensive player I am."
In 33 games after Foegele was traded, Robertson had 47 points (26 goals, 21 assists), and then he led Kingston in scoring in the postseason with 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 11 games.
Robertson was born in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia, California, but the family moved to Northville, Michigan, when Jason was 10, which made playing in the OHL a possibility.
"I wanted to play in the OHL," he said. "I moved to Toronto with my mom three years ago so I could be drafted by the OHL. There are a lot of players who have made the jump straight to the NHL from the OHL and I wanted to do the same thing."
His younger brother, Nick, has chosen the same path and was selected by Peterborough with the 16th pick of the 2017 OHL draft. Kingston and Peterborough are in the same division, which means the brothers could play against each other eight times next season.
"Our passion for hockey comes in large part from how competitive we are with each other," Robertson said. "I'm better than him, but he doesn't agree. We push each other all the time and that's a big reason why I had such a successful season."