EDMONTON, AB - It's a name Oil Country knows well.
The Edmonton Oil Kings impressed this past season in the WHL, reversing a 22-win campaign in 2017-18 to finish 42-18-4-4 and atop the Central Division before exiting in the Eastern Conference Final to the Prince Albert Raiders in in six games.
Critical to that on-ice improvement for the Oil Kings were the efforts and output received from defenceman Matthew Robertson.
"Going into the year nobody really knew what to expect," Roberston said to EdmontonOilers.com on June 1 at the NHL Scouting Combine.
"We had some new management, but I thought we had some team-building and I thought we connected really well and had a good group of guys. As we move forward, I thought we had a good second half of the year and a good push in playoffs. I think we kept getting better."
Video: COMBINE | Matthew Robertson
The Sherwood Park, Alberta product strung together a superb full second season of junior filled with plenty of milestones and individual success to put himself in the conversation for a late first-round, early second-round selection at the NHL Draft in Vancouver this weekend as a blueliner with the tools to compete in every facet of the game.
A strong draft year for the 18-year-old started in Edmonton, and could end in the silks of Blue & Orange rather than those of Red & Blue with the Oilers slated to pick eighth and 38th overall this weekend in the first two rounds.
Robertson started the season in August with two goals and two assists in five games at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup at Rogers Place, winning the gold medal on home soil. Injury problems reduced playing time with the Oil Kings for the left-shot rearguard, but he was still able to put out improved numbers of seven goals and 26 assists in 53 games and a further eight points (4G, 4A) in 18 postseason matches in 2018-19.
"I think for sure I got a bit better," he said. "I think I had a couple of setbacks with some injuries, but I thought as the year progressed I got a bit more physical and aggressive."
In addition to burgeoning offensive production for Robertson is a two-way game that allows the 6-foot-3, 200-pound defender the ability to log big minutes with his frame, speed, and ability to make that critical first pass.
"I think that's one of my strengths is probably transition; just my poise with the puck," Robertson said. "I'll say I can probably take some steps with my offence, but I think there's always stuff to work on."
A draft pick spent on Robertson this weekend is a commitment to developing a solid two-way defenceman with the tools to succeed across all aspects of the professional game. With the Oil Kings poised for another breakout season, boosted by the experience of a number of returning players, Robertson could continue developing with a team that's packed with as much potential as his own.
"I think we have a lot of guys coming back with good potential. We have the potential to be really good for the next few years."