Robertson of Maple Leafs wont play for U.S. in World Junior Championship

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Nicholas Robertson will not play for the United States in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. The Toronto Maple Leafs forward will instead remain in Toronto to be available for the start of NHL training camp.

The 19-year-old, who made his League debut Aug. 2 in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, has been quarantining in Toronto while the United States held its selection camp in Plymouth, Michigan; the Maple Leafs did not make him available for the U.S., which announced its 25-player roster on Saturday. 

The WJC is scheduled to be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton from Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2021. 

Based on the IIHF rules for the tournament, Robertson would have to join the United States in Edmonton no later than Sunday. All players and staff members for each of the 10 teams must quarantine upon arrival for five days in their hotel rooms and be tested daily, and no one is able to arrive afterward. 

A start date for NHL training camps and the regular-season schedule has not been determined. NHL health and safety protocols call for a seven-day quarantine for a player who arrives in his NHL city on a commercial flight. If Robertson were in Edmonton for the tournament and returned to Toronto, he would need to quarantine for seven days and could miss most of training camp. 

The 2021 WJC is scheduled to be played with no fans in attendance, and the teams will be in a secure zone similar to the one used by the NHL during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Robertson, selected by the Maple Leafs in the second round (No. 53) of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 3, becoming the first 18-year-old with a postseason goal for the Maple Leafs since Ted Kennedy on March 28, 1944. 

“Getting thrown in with good players during camp definitely helped my comfort level,” Robertson said during the postseason. “Getting to know the guys off the ice too definitely helps on the ice. I’m learning a lot from the guys and am asking them a lot of questions which definitely helps me. The expectations are probably high because everything is a lot better than what I was exposed to at the junior level.” 

Robertson led the Ontario Hockey League with 55 goals in 46 games for Peterborough last season. The California native scored five points (two goals, three assists) in five games for the United States at the 2020 WJC. 

“The big thing we’ve seen with him throughout training camp is the way he’s been able to work, his work habits and the way he skates and the way he’s been on top of the puck,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said during the postseason. “What we’ve said all along with him is that he’s a guy with a great skill set who can that if he gets an opportunity, he can make a difference offensively.” 

Games will be broadcast in the United States on NHL Network.

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