Matthew Robertson looks set to impact New York Rangers

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Matthew Robertson attends Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Rangers Training Facility in Tarrytown on July 12, 2022. Credit: © Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Matthew Robertson is a 21-year-old left-handed defenseman who the New York Rangers selected in the second round of the 2019 draft. At 6-foot-4, 201 pounds, he already has the size to play in the NHL, but he’s put on a little longer to develop than some of the other blue line prospects.

Coming into this most recent development camp, he is considered one of the top prospects with a chance to make the team.

“My target next year is to make Rangers,” Robertson said. “It’s a big offseason for me and I learned a lot last year in Hartford. Having that experience, knowing a little more about what to expect at camp, the urgency definitely increases.

Matthew Robertson has the tools

Robertson fashions himself a two-way defender with an emphasis on the defensive end. He’s proud to move the puck and make that all-important out pass. In his final season in the WHL, he won Central Division Defenseman of the Year in 2020-21 with a +26 differential. It was the best in the whole league.

Last season, he honed his game at the professional level, playing 65 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack and collecting 11 points. That experience, along with advice from Rangers development staff, has him focused on what he needs to do before training camp opens in September.

“On the defensive side: positioning, angles, just little things to be more effective in the D zone,” Robertson noted. “On the offensive side: making shots, knowing when to jump and simplifying my game.”

The tall defender has certainly matured with all the physical compliments to compete for the third left defense pairing with Patrik Nemeth traded to Arizona.

The competition is going to be tough with Zac Jones seen as the likely favorite to win the job after two stints with the big club in the past two seasons. In 22 career games, he has 6 points and a very important hockey IQ to play in the Nationals.

“We’re all buddies,” Robertson said. “But at the end of the day, we’re all competing for a job.”

new york rangers prospect
Rangers Prospect Development Camp at the Ranger Training Facility in Tarrytown on July 12, 2022. Credit: © Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Matthew Robertson and Braden Schneider

One thing that can factor into the equation is Robertson’s familiarity with Braden Schneider, who is expected to be the right back in the third pair.

Before Schneider was called up to Rangers in January, he and Robertson were a top pair with the Wolf Pack.

“I’m pretty close to [Schneider] so we talked all year long,” Robertson revealed. “He told me the biggest difference was how the game went. Keep the pace of the game and make the first play you see quickly.

Both players were considered the top defensemen in their respective WHL divisions in 2020-21. Rangers management have been considering the two kids from Western Canada as a future defensive duo for some time and could finally see that happen this season.

Time is running out for Robertson though and he needs to start moving before the Rangers change their plans.

“It adds motivation,” Robertson said. “I think I’m ready.”

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