We recently wrote about the Leafs’ options for Nick Robertson in the aftermath of controversial comments from provincial government officials regarding the OHL’s return being contingent upon the elimination of body contact. The comments stirred up a firestorm on social media but eventually died down when Premier Ford contradicted his minister and said the hope was that it could return with hitting after all.
One option that was talked about in the November 2020 article was the non-possibility of Robertson playing in the AHL this season, due to an agreement between the NHL and CHL that does not allow players from CHL teams to play in the AHL (or ECHL) until they are 20 years old (by December 31st of that year). However, Arpon Basu of The Athletic has some interesting news to share:
A team source reached out to mention NHL teams can have their CHL prospects play in the AHL up until their CHL league gets going and that is something the Canadiens might like to do with Kaiden Guhle. Would be rare opportunity to work with a young CHL prospect at the pro level.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) January 4, 2021
So there may be a loophole here. As long as an OHL season is not being played, the NHL-CHL agreement will not be enforced, allowing previously-ineligible sub-20 year olds to play in the AHL until their specific league starts up.
With the release of training camp lines earlier on Sunday and Robertson on the outside looking in (for now), he seems destined for the Leafs taxi squad for this pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, and would most likely be the first or second player to rotate into the lineup in case of injury. But with the AHL’s season slated to begin on February 5th and the OHL unlikely to return before that, the Leafs do at least have the option of sending down the waiver-exempt Robertson to the Marlies to keep his legs fresh and get him some game action in between NHL games and practices.